There are givers, and there are takers. Then there are those who are excellent at both and utilize them with wisdom.
I love to give generously. God has grown me to a point where I recognize that giving away my time, my effort, and my resources brings me so much joy and I really love to meet needs. However, there’s an awful side to this story too.
I have a pride problem.
It’s mostly manifested into an inability to ask for help or accept gifts. God usually brings me to the end of my self-sufficient rope when I endure a physical malady.
As someone who was an avid rock climber, martial artist and world traveler who could sleep in any position in any place, I’ve ruined my body before I was the age of 3o. This means that I’ve had 7 surgeries and countless other injuries. It seems to be the one thing that constantly brings me to finally realize that I need others to meet my own needs sometimes.
When I’m unable to do things myself, God reminds me the importance of receiving from the community of Christ.
I have labeled this inability to accept the extension of the gifts of the others as “stealing their blessing”. I was not enabling them to use their gifts to build up the Body. I was turning down their attempt to meet needs and serve others.
We see a similar situation in John 13 when Peter refuses to allow Jesus to wash his feet. It’s quite a teachable moment.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” — John 13:6-8
The thing I get about Peter here is the incredulous feeling that Jesus, of all people, would stoop to a servant’s role in order to wash the feet of his disciples. Peter knew who Jesus was, he could probably tolerate the reverse – if he washed Jesus’ feet – but the reverse got an immediate objection.
While Jesus is exemplifying humility, Peter portrays a false humility.
You see, having respect for another person, particularly someone greater than you, that enables you to withdraw from being served by them can be seen as humble. However, true humility is shown when one extends himself to be served, even when someone greater is doing the serving.
I am Peter.
I too often find myself unable to humble myself to those who want to serve our family or me personally. I am not comfortable when someone wants to give us things, bring over food, take care of my kids for a few hours, etc.
I have a self-sufficient sin tendency.
I don’t like feeling vulnerable.
I don’t like feeling weak.
I don’t like feeling lazy.
Yet it’s moments like these when God reminds me that I am not in control and, in His sovereignty, determines I need another bout with this lesson. I’m grateful for these repeated lessons and I often wonder when I’ll actually get it for good but until that day, I will trust that God is drawing me more and more into holiness.
‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.’
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons… he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” — Hebrews 12:5-7, 10-11 (read in full at Heb 12:3-11)
These ailments that God uses helps me to fully rely on the service and love of the Body of Christ, which bring me to a point of needing community as it was meant to be lived out. That has been humbling and a blessing, as well. I’ve been ministered to in ways that are far above what I thought was needed. I’ve been forced to rest and that’s lent itself to a period of being refreshed in spirit as well as physical.
I’m so grateful for the chances to practice receiving from the gifts of others. I’m in awe of how God has formed Christian community and I’m renewed to continue allowing Him to chisel away at my pride until I do finally “get it” for good.