"What you think about God is the most important thought in your head"
Why is it that we have such a hard time receiving good things? Its true about everyone. We all have a hard time receiving good things. And if you don't have trouble with receiving gifts thats awesome! But I would bet that you just haven't received an extravagant enough gift to feel guilty for receiving yet. Whether its shame, unworthiness, embarrassment, pride, or feeling obligated to give an equally good gift in return, we all have something in our hearts that causes us to struggle with being given things. Or maybe I shouldn't say being given things, but receiving things. Receiving something and being given something are two different things. We can be given directions, wisdom, handouts, gifts, insults, treasures, responsibilities, vision, value, compliments, and any other thing you can imagine you hold in your hand, heart, or mind. But rarely are we in a place where we choose to receive the good only. We'll receive the good, but add our own sentiments or senses of obligation and servitude as payment for the good because God forbid we be given something good that we don't have to pay back.
A friend pays for lunch and the polite thing to do is to offer to pay next time. We feel obligated to reciprocate, to give back. And I think its this system that cripples us from receiving the truly and deeply extravagant things that Jesus has to give us, in fact that he's already purchased with his blood but we stay in the corner out of a sense of false humility fearing to receive something truly extravagant. If we are in a place of feeling like we need to pay God back for good things, or we can't receive the good things unless we become worthy, we are actually living counter to the economy of God. In scripture he says "what love the father has lavished upon us that we should be called children of God", "you shall receive a pressed down and shaken together portion", people throughout the bible even asked extravagant things of God and he gave them to them. "As he [Jesus] is so are we in this world". Read the first half of Ephesians and see all the things that the Father has put under the feet of Jesus, look at all the things that are promised and all the truly extravagant gifts that are already ours. We just get to receive them.
The funny thing is that most of the time we have no problem giving. We'll give and give until theres nothing left for us. We value people's need, their destitution, their desires even far above our own if we were in the exact same situation: The person who just lost their job who refuses to get food stamps cuz "only losers and poor people do that".
The person who refuses to go on unemployment because "you work for what you have"
Never take a handout.
Never take a free lunch.
Never take what could help someone else in greater need than you
Never evaluate yourself as being in need or help.
Never consider yourself "worthy"
Yet they'll give and give. Ive been told on more than one occasion that I'd be the person who'd give the shirt off my back to a stranger. But I couldn't receive a gift over $20 without a pang of serious guilt. I think that this mindset crafted by the world is not only standing in the way of receiving help, and personal growth but it can stand in the way of receiving gifts from Jesus. Jesus wants to give us things. Not just ethereal blessings and all the things that christians hold higher than all like "wisdom, prudence, virtue, integrity". Being religious and thinking ourselves pious or virtuous for not receiving a very nice gift is self righteous and goes against the heart of giving that the Father has toward us. It actually refreshes and blesses God to give to you, to provide for you, to lavish "according to his riches in glory". When the Father gives. He doesn't give halfway. He loves to bless in overabundance and extravagance. But he won't force his blessings on us. He will only give what we're willing to receive. But he doesn't give up because he wants to give you more and more and more and will work with your heart to bring you into a space with him where you will receive more and more and more! No longer will you need to deprecate yourself because you'll understand that you're a Son/Daughter of the living God and you have an inheritance, you have a Dad with the biggest bank account and the biggest heart in the universe. And he is the one who truly does give prudence because he is prudence, he gives wisdom lavishly because he is wisdom. He gives us himself. How much of Him are we willing to receive?
I remember when Jesus started dealing with this in me because he wanted to bless me and give me the world. He wanted to show me my worth to him, to show me that he is the God of much much much more. It was my 21st birthday and I was in Fred Meyer with my aunt and my mom. Mom wanted to take me shopping for some new clothes for school and we were looking at shoes. Walking up and down the aisles I spotted the pair of shoes I truly wanted. They were grey slip on vans (so comfy), and on the next aisle I saw other designs on the same style of shoe that I thought were amazing! And I had spotted my favorite kind of shoe, low top converse (which I actually needed new ones, not just wanted for style). So being there I was in a conundrum. Which one do I pick? The ones I need, the ones I had in my head that I wanted, or the ones that blew my mind when I saw them? I walked up and down the aisles struggling. but not struggling with the choice itself but the feeling that no matter what I picked, I didn't deserve them and I shouldn't have even wanted two pairs but I did, in fact I should've been grateful that I was even getting one!! These thoughts kept hurting me, and harassing me until I gave up in my heart and actually started crying. My heart was so heavy and in pain over my aunt and mother blessing me with a pair of shoes.
Now you can imagine if you have kids the hurt in your heart when you see your child like this. "Whats the big deal? I really just wanna buy you something for your birthday cuz I love you! I would've even bought you shoes had you asked if it wasn't your birthday cuz I love you" but the hurt a parent would feel when their childs heart is open and they don't feel worthy of that love is substantial. Eventually my aunt and mom realized what was up and even though I tried to get them to stop they bought me 4 pairs of 60 dollar shoes. It was heavy on my heart and I felt so bad for them giving such an extravagant gift. But I eventually accepted them and was truly grateful. I started to understand that they wanted to bless me and just love on me and it was ok to let them do that because it was God getting to bless me through them too and by refusing their blessings I almost took away their chance to fulfill a godly desire of their hearts because I didn't feel worth it even though I was more than worth it to them.
It was funny cuz the following year almost the exact same thing happened. My aunt wasnt with us so it was just mom and I, but we were in Macy's and I needed nicer waterproof shoes ( I was going to head to school on the oregon coast...lots of rain) and the lowest dollar amount was $80. I was not about to let mom drop $80 on silly footwear. I was going to slog around in my sandals before that happened. and as we were looking for the best kind of shoe to take the Lord spoke to me in my head. "Son, what if i was at the counter paying for your shoes? Would you let me buy them for you?" And I said "of course! You have all the money in the world." "How many shoes would you let me buy you?" "....What?" "I said how many shoes would you let me buy you? What if I wanted to buy you the whole rack? Would you let me do that for you?" I thought for a second. "Yes I would. I know you would just want to give me the best and so much that I could barely handle it" "Then let your mother buy you as many pairs of shoes as she wants. She lives a whole state away and can't spend much time with you and you know she loves to give gifts to people. Let her do this. You're worth it to her and worth it to me". My heart broke open. I stood in the aisle tears welling up in my eyes as I truly felt Jesus' love flow into my heart. I learned that day that its ok to receive big and small things.
Then the following year she took me to New York and bought me a $300 pair of dress shoes that I'll have for the rest of my life. Lets just say I didn't know that dress shoes could be that comfy. When we decide to receive and be ok with gifts, life gets better. Jesus is good man.
Maybe its the way we're raised. Maybe its the way we were treated at school. Maybe its just the product of living in a sinful world. But all I know is that God wants to buy us all the shoes in the shoe store, he wants to give us all of the biggest, best, and greatest things. He wants to give us the biggest and best and brightest. He wants to give and give and give. It pleases him to give to you. It pleases him to bless you. Will you let your husband buy you the expensive and impractical dress you secretly keep eyeballing but don't want anyone to know you want? Will you let a stranger buy you a cup of coffee? Will you let Jesus buy you the biggest house? Will you let him gift you with the greatest best friend? Will you let him lavish his love on you in any and every way imaginable? Will you lay down your pride and realize that you're worth him giving his own child to die in a horrific way for. IT WAS WORTH IT TO HIM. YOU WERE WORTH IT TO HIM. of course this isn't just applying to material things but all things. on the scale of giving i think letting letting your child die in the place of another is at the top. in fact top of the top. If it gives God pleasure to give you all things. Let him give it to you. Just enjoy it. even if its scary at first. Just enjoy it. God doesn't give bad gifts.
"if you being evil know how to give good gifts, how much more will your father in heaven give you all things?
And just to clarify. Cuz I can hear it coming. The thoughts that say "Well if I just receive then I'll get complacent and won't want to give." That's a lie from the pit of hell because when we receive love from God we can't help but give it away. He gives to us so we can bless others. He wants to give to everyone and giving can give us immense joy. The generous heart that is produced out of a receiving heart is more generous than the heart that can't receive because the gifts aren't given out of a deficit in the person or out of low self esteem. They're given out of an accurate sense of self and worth of people to God. You're no longer giving to get worth. You're giving out of worth. Cuz only when we receive can we truly give. Your giving reflects the heart of the Father when you joyfully receive from Him. Be blessed and ask Him what gifts he has for you today, and the blessing of giving will come soon enough after. We receive big to give big because our God is a big God.
John, who lived in the lifestyle for 30 years and returned to Christ full force, and Brandon, a 21 year old straight man also in love with the Lord Jesus. A team of two brought together by God to act as one. One gay one straight both in loving relationship with Christ.