A Season for Receiving

A Season for Receiving

by Jay Pound

When I was growing up, Friday night was always family night, and for many winters that meant going to the YMCA. Many of those years we were able to go because of another family in our church, who bought my family a membership as a Christmas gift. Their generosity was a great blessing to my family, and the source of many wonderful family memories. And when they saw us at church, what they always wanted to know was, were we enjoying it? Had we put it to use?


Now on the surface that seems to perhaps be the obvious question, but it actually reveals something about the nature of the gift. As with many gifts, receiving that gift was not a one-step process. They didn’t ask if we had received the cards in the mail; they asked if we were putting them to use, if we were enjoying them. That was why they gave the gift, not simply so that we would have YMCA cards in our wallet, but so that we could enjoy all of the other things that come with membership. To receive the gift fully, we had to use it, we had to incorporate it into our lives.


Receiving the gift that God gives is like receiving the gift of a membership, to receive the gift of salvation fully, we have to put it to use. Certainly accepting God’s gift of salvation is the beginning, and a critical step, but it is far from the full measure of what God’s gift has to offer. God's gift isn’t merely for when life is over, it is for today. The promise of resurrection and eternal life are gifts beyond price; but like the membership, if we are to receive it fully, then we have to put it to use, to incorporate that truth into our lives today.


We often talk about Christmas as the season for giving, and that is most certainly an appropriate response to what God has given us in Christ Jesus. But the first step—our first responsibility—is to receive, and then to give to others out of the fullness of God’s great gift. And so while it might sound a bit odd, I want to challenge us to receive this Christmas: to let the gift of the gospel permeate our lives a little more fully. Let us not make the mistake of thinking that we have received it all already. As Scripture demonstrates repeatedly, God’s capacity to give is always greater than our capacity to receive.


So I would encourage you to examine yourselves and see where you could receive anew the gift of God. Maybe you are stressed and worried – about work, money, or life. Then hear again the good news that in Jesus, God is here, and He will make everything right, and so receive the gift of His peace. Or maybe you need to receive the endless and unconquerable love of God, personified in Jesus, the perfect love that casts out all fear. Maybe you need to hear again the song of the angels and of Zechariah, and receive the gift of joy that comes from knowing that God has been faithful and has done all He has promised and more.


The gospel is the gift that never stops giving, but it is therefore also the gift we must never stop receiving. What God wants to know isn’t just if you have received it, but if you are putting it to use, if you are enjoying it. Like the family that gave us a YMCA membership, God’s desire—His purpose in giving the gift—didn’t end with membership in His family. God's desire is that you would enjoy all of the benefits that come with being a child of God. And so let us receive them, use them, and enjoy them.