"It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35) This is one of Jesus' better-known sayings, and it's a sentiment that gets repeated over and over this time of year. That's a good thing too. Christians should be eager to give generously at Christmas. Even more, we should be looking to share not just for a day or a month or a season, but every day. There is far too much selfishness, stinginess, and only looking out for me and mine in our world. Those who have should regularly share with those who don't. How would our world be different if we acted like we believe it really is more blessed to give than receive? How would our lives be different if we made decisions with our money and time and talents like we believe that?
But what the Christmas story reminds us is that maybe we struggle with sustained giving because we struggle with sustained receiving. The prologue to John's gospel tells us that through Jesus, "one blessing after another" (John 1:16) is offered for those who believe--adoption as children, heirs of the father, participants in life to the full just to name a few. But John doesn't just lay out the promises; he also lays out the problem. Too many of us on far too many occasions have a receiving problem. We struggle to make room for Jesus and all that he asks and offers.
We struggle to long for and look for that which Jesus offers. We are slow to acknowledge our daily need. We soon forget that receiving God's great gift is both free and costly. We are forever indebted to love, a love that we never pay back but that we always pay forward.
So we move ahead this Advent season with this truth. It is absolutely more blessed to give than to receive. But you won't fully give, and you can't fully live unless you humble yourself to continually, daily receive.