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One time at a conference, I had a group of children come up on the stage to demonstrate a point. I gave each of them a gift, and each child gladly took what I handed them without hesitation. Several of them excitedly thanked me and a few even told me they love me.
These kids freely received my gifts. Not one of them said, “I don’t deserve this. I haven’t been good this week, and I can’t take it.” And none of them looked at me suspiciously, wondering why I gave them something. They just received it with joy!
The same way these children received my gifts to them is the way God wants us to receive from Him – freely and with joy. John 16:24 AMP says, “…Ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy (gladness, delight) may be full and complete.”
If you’re struggling with life, chances are you haven’t freely received God’s gifts, such as His love, grace, mercy and forgiveness, so you can have the life Jesus died to give you.
We tend to have a mentality of getting things, not receiving them. To get means “to obtain by struggle and effort.” If everything in life is a struggle and effort, you won’t enjoy much of it and you’ll be frustrated a lot.
Getting things puts the burden on us because we have to figure out how to manipulate circumstances to make them work out the way we want them to. But the Bible talks about receiving, not getting. We receive by faith, not through works. This is difficult for most people because we’re taught in the world that we have to earn what we get.
But God is not for sale. We can’t buy, earn or deserve Him. His gifts – forgiveness, mercy, grace, favor, salvation – are free. And we could never do enough to earn them or deserve them. Jesus paid the price that we could never pay to provide these gifts for us. We simply have to receive them!
I used to have a religious attitude and believed that my good works made me deserving of God’s goodness. This actually kept me from receiving God’s blessings because I was trying to earn them. I was judgmental and critical of others, too, and would get frustrated when someone who didn’t seem deserving of it in my eyes was blessed.
I remember a long time ago I had a neighbor who was also a friend, but I didn’t think she was as spiritual as me. She didn’t go to church as much as I did; she didn’t pray as much as I did; she didn’t give as much as I did. Well, at the time, I was praying for God to give me a fur coat. I wanted one so badly. Then one day she came over with a huge box in her hands. She was so excited! She said, “You won’t believe what God gave me!” She opened that box and there was my fur coat! A woman we both knew had just delivered it to her, saying God told her to give her the coat.
Immediately, I was so angry and jealous. But I responded the way a good Christian would, saying, “Praise the Lord! I’m so happy for you!” At the same time I was thinking, God, You’ve got to get her out of my house. How could You possibly give her that coat? It’s not fair. What about me?!
My heart wasn’t right. My motives were selfish. God wanted to bless me with His gifts, but I couldn’t receive them if I kept trying to earn them or deserve them. I had to learn to just receive.
We all need to ask God for His love, forgiveness, mercy, grace… Just say, “God, please bless me. I receive Your blessings in my life, not because I’m good and have earned them, but because You are good!” Then your joy will be full.
This article is taken from Joyce's four-CD series, Enjoying Everyday Life.