Learning to Receive and Give
The wicked borrows but does not give back, but the righteous is generous and gives. (Psalm 37:21, ESV)
I recently played golf with Lewis Greer, our Arizona region director and two Links Fellowship friends. The bright blue morning sky provided a striking backdrop as we finessed our way around Mesa Country Club. During our friendly game (all for pride), there were many generous gimme putts given. On a few putts, however, Lewis’ generosity exceeded the “inside the leather” zone, making it hard to receive. We chose to putt out instead.
This day of golf was a part of a multi-purpose, five-day trip to the Phoenix area. The challenge for me on trips loaded with lots of activity is to stay attuned to the goodness unfolding along the way. I find that the strengths I have in planning and completing a task and my desire to help others often highlights one of my weaknesses. When I am too tightly focused on my plans and what I feel needs to be accomplished, it is easy to become emotionally detached in order to fulfill my responsibilities.
On this particular trip, as each day passed, I started to notice the Lord weaving the unexpected theme of generosity into each day. I traveled to Phoenix to bless and be generous to others. And while I did do this, there was much more that God wanted to give me through the generous giving from new and old friends. And it had nothing to do with gimme putts.
It is much easier for me to be generous than it is to receive generosity. Receiving pokes at my shame message that I am not worthy–one that I no longer believe, but where the enemy persistently attacks my soul–everything inside me wants to minimize that it feels good to be noticed, seen, and cared for by others.
Tucked in the middle of a discourse comparing the differences between the wicked (ungodly) and the righteous (just in conduct and character), King David depicted very clearly that the wicked take with no giving back and the righteous is generous and gives. The Hebrew word David used in this scripture is hanan and means “to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor, to be gracious.” Isn’t this a beautiful 3-D visual of what it means to be generous? The posture of bending or stooping takes humility, intentionality, and mindfulness. While one is hanan, there must also be one willing to receive. Unlike the wicked who takes, one who gratefully receives can be spurred on to offer similar acts of generosity to others.
Being generous requires our time, resources, creativity and sacrifice. It flows out of our unique gifts and talents given by the Lord. Generosity and receiving must be welcomed as two sides of the same coin–as one stoops down to pick up the ball and say “it’s good,” there is one who must reach out and receive it.
I am grateful for the moments where I am able to hanan, to be generous. And I am learning to honor with gratitude, receiving the gift of generosity. Engaging in reciprocal generosity is a pathway to joy and God’s goodness flows through the generosity of his people.
April 28, 2016
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