A living anecdote which came up incidently in a post-sermon discussion last week…
Early this year I heard a sermon from Doug Wilson (which I can’t find at present) which mentioned that receiving is giving. One can receive a gift well, with honour and gratitude and thankfulness and it blesses the giver — i.e. it gives to the giver. Or one can be indifferent, or flattering, or overly reciprocal and that kind of bad receiving is then not a giving to the giver.
I subsequently had a vivid application of this at my father-in-law’s funeral. After the funeral service which was a blessing, we were standing around and greeting and thanking and receiving comfort. Among the folk were my Uncle Winton and Aunty Ingrid, and at the back was table laden with eats which people had brought. My aunt asked if I was going to eat and I said no. I didn’t feel like eating, I wasn’t hungry, eating just didn’t seem important. She said “Anthony you must eat, people have brought it for you”. Wow! Its like lights went on — the eats were not primarily food in case someone was physically hungry, they were a gift, they were a feast in honour, they were special. Here I was not hungry and therefore not receiving, I was impoverished by looking at the physical pragmatically, and not giving to the givers by refusing to receive! I looked at her for a few seconds while this sunk in and then said “you’re right”, and went off to get some eats for the family and went back to get for me. I had to receive the gift, to receive this blessing, to enjoy it heartily because it was fitting to do so and God would be pleased with it, it delighted his heart that people were there, that people gave and it should delight our hearts to receive such gifts well.
This was a profound lesson to me which I am still trying to learning and apply fully. Life is not just about practicalities, or right thoughts in your head, it is also about giving, and receiving and relationships.
A corollary is that its never just the food. And that not only when the food is bread and wine. And even there receiving well is especially important — morose reflection is hardly a fitting response!