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What about receiving?

What about receiving?It’s no secret that lots of people think Christmas has become too much about presents and gifts. We hear all the time about how commercialized Christmas has become and stories about Christmas shopping; the long lines, fights in the aisles, people trampled at those mid-night sales the day after Thanksgiving, the stress induced by having to find the ‘right’ gift for people… You know the stories.

Most have heard the phrase, “It’s better to give than to receive.”

Go with me for a minute here.

Yeah, I understand the idea of generosity and giving. I get being unselfish and I am excited to be giving gifts to folks this Christmas.

What occurred to me the other day, though, was that for someone to ‘give’, someone else has to ‘receive’. In order for giving to take place, there has to be someone receiving. For a mailman, there’s a mailbox. For a Peyton Manning, there’s a Marvin Harrison (or Montana/Rice if you’re older). There’s someone who’s going to take that wrapping paper off the box.

That old bit about “it’s better to give than to receive” seems to vilify receiving. If it’s better to give, then by receiving, you’re choosing the lesser of the two.

I don’t think people ‘receive’ well.

A compliment on someone’s appearance is often met with an excuse or a deflection; “It’s just an old shirt I haven’t worn in a while, but thanks anyway.” Or a person offers their thanks for some thing you did; “Oh, don’t worry about it. It was nothing.” It’s passed off rather than simply received.

It’s a blanket overstatement to say this always happens, but I do think this mentality has crept into the fabric of American society. I imagine this plays out in all sorts of ways behind the scenes for each of us. Do we simply receive love given by others, parents or friends? Do we simply receive the gift of grace offered in Christ? Do we simply receive that?

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