How To Gracefully Receive Gifts

The only way to reciprocate God's gift of Grace is by freely accepting it.

How To Gracefully Receive Gifts

March 25, 2021

No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I still laugh. In The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis episode of the Big Bang Theory, the character Sheldon Cooper explains his theory on gifting

Sheldon describes gifts as obligations. Whenever he receives a gift, he feels obligated to reciprocate by giving a gift of equal value, representing the same level of friendship as the gift he received.

Even as I laugh, memories of awkward gifting come to my mind. Once a co-worker surprised me with a Christmas gift. Panicked, I ran out on my break and purchased a gift for her. In the end, I spent more than I should have. But at least I didn’t leave the situation feeling indebted.

Another time, a friend surprised me with a birthday gift. Assuming our friendship had reached a new level, I reciprocated on her next birthday. But when my birthday came around again, she merely called to wish me a happy birthday. Perplexed, I wondered if I had done something to lower our relationship level.

As I continue to watch this episode, I see so much of myself in Sheldon. In anticipation of exchanging gifts, he purchases a variety of bath item gift sets~ all at different price points. His plan is simple. He will open his gift first, estimate its value, and then choose a bath gift set of equal value to give to his friend. He will then return all the other gift sets.

 Over the years I employed similar strategies. During the holidays, I purchased generic gifts and left the tags blank. If someone surprised me with a gift, I quickly wrote their name on the tag and… voilà! Awkward situation avoided~ sort of.

As I’ve matured in my thinking, I realize this idea of reciprocity nullifies the heart behind gifts. But I still struggle with accepting gifts with grace. Especially the gift of grace. 

Scriptures clearly define grace as a gift which cannot be earned. (Ephesians 2:8) I recognize, understand, and accept this truth. But other Scriptures about grace have confused me:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (I Corinthians 15:10 NIV)

In these words the Apostle Paul described how the gift of grace motivated him to work hard in his ministry. But if I am not careful, these words can feed my desire to reciprocate His gift of grace. When I do that, I successfully turn His gift into an obligation.

Recently I found a new treasure in the Psalms which helps me understand how to gracefully receive God’s gift of grace:

What shall I return to the Lord
    for all his goodness to me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and call on the name of the Lord.

I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people. (Psalm 116:12-14 NIV)

The promise to lift up the cup of salvation indicates the psalmist will drink freely and often from this blessing. Calling on the name of the Lord describes an ongoing relationship with Him. Finally, the psalmist promises to fulfill any vows he made. 

Amazing. The first step in reciprocating the Lord’s goodness is our continual acceptance of His blessings. This leads us to cultivating a deeper relationship with Him. Our last act of reciprocity is to faithfully live in obedience to Him. When we do this in the presence of others- we become a light to this world. 

At the end of the episode, Sheldon opens his gift~ a napkin signed by one of his favorite celebrities. Overcome with emotion, Sheldon gives all of the bath item gift sets to his friend. Realizing it still isn’t enough, he hugs her. If you aren’t familiar with the characters, Sheldon is a brilliant scientist who feels uncomfortable with shows of affection. That hug cost him more than all the gifts he purchased. 

In this too I am like Sheldon. I offer so many gifts to God: gifts of service, gifts of financial donations, gifts of time, and gifts of obedience. In the end I realize they still won’t suffice. So finally I give Him the gift which costs the most~ myself. Raw, vulnerable, open to receive His love. A willingness to walk with Him for the rest of my life. Then I remember: this is all He ever wanted.

Wherever the road leads you, I pray you also can accept His gift of grace and fully surrender all you are to the One who loves you most.

 

How To Gracefully Receive Gifts

March 25, 2021

The only way to reciprocate God's gift of Grace is by freely accepting it.

No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I still laugh. In The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis episode of the Big Bang Theory, the character Sheldon Cooper explains his theory on gifting

Sheldon describes gifts as obligations. Whenever he receives a gift, he feels obligated to reciprocate by giving a gift of equal value, representing the same level of friendship as the gift he received.

Even as I laugh, memories of awkward gifting come to my mind. Once a co-worker surprised me with a Christmas gift. Panicked, I ran out on my break and purchased a gift for her. In the end, I spent more than I should have. But at least I didn’t leave the situation feeling indebted.

Another time, a friend surprised me with a birthday gift. Assuming our friendship had reached a new level, I reciprocated on her next birthday. But when my birthday came around again, she merely called to wish me a happy birthday. Perplexed, I wondered if I had done something to lower our relationship level.

As I continue to watch this episode, I see so much of myself in Sheldon. In anticipation of exchanging gifts, he purchases a variety of bath item gift sets~ all at different price points. His plan is simple. He will open his gift first, estimate its value, and then choose a bath gift set of equal value to give to his friend. He will then return all the other gift sets.

 Over the years I employed similar strategies. During the holidays, I purchased generic gifts and left the tags blank. If someone surprised me with a gift, I quickly wrote their name on the tag and… voilà! Awkward situation avoided~ sort of.

As I’ve matured in my thinking, I realize this idea of reciprocity nullifies the heart behind gifts. But I still struggle with accepting gifts with grace. Especially the gift of grace. 

Scriptures clearly define grace as a gift which cannot be earned. (Ephesians 2:8) I recognize, understand, and accept this truth. But other Scriptures about grace have confused me:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (I Corinthians 15:10 NIV)

In these words the Apostle Paul described how the gift of grace motivated him to work hard in his ministry. But if I am not careful, these words can feed my desire to reciprocate His gift of grace. When I do that, I successfully turn His gift into an obligation.

Recently I found a new treasure in the Psalms which helps me understand how to gracefully receive God’s gift of grace:

What shall I return to the Lord
    for all his goodness to me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and call on the name of the Lord.

I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people. (Psalm 116:12-14 NIV)

The promise to lift up the cup of salvation indicates the psalmist will drink freely and often from this blessing. Calling on the name of the Lord describes an ongoing relationship with Him. Finally, the psalmist promises to fulfill any vows he made. 

Amazing. The first step in reciprocating the Lord’s goodness is our continual acceptance of His blessings. This leads us to cultivating a deeper relationship with Him. Our last act of reciprocity is to faithfully live in obedience to Him. When we do this in the presence of others- we become a light to this world. 

At the end of the episode, Sheldon opens his gift~ a napkin signed by one of his favorite celebrities. Overcome with emotion, Sheldon gives all of the bath item gift sets to his friend. Realizing it still isn’t enough, he hugs her. If you aren’t familiar with the characters, Sheldon is a brilliant scientist who feels uncomfortable with shows of affection. That hug cost him more than all the gifts he purchased. 

In this too I am like Sheldon. I offer so many gifts to God: gifts of service, gifts of financial donations, gifts of time, and gifts of obedience. In the end I realize they still won’t suffice. So finally I give Him the gift which costs the most~ myself. Raw, vulnerable, open to receive His love. A willingness to walk with Him for the rest of my life. Then I remember: this is all He ever wanted.

Wherever the road leads you, I pray you also can accept His gift of grace and fully surrender all you are to the One who loves you most.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Teresa on March 26, 2021 at 8:55 AM

    Shirley I really like how you put that just giving our self is all that God really wants, that raw, vulnerable and ready to receive what we need to be more Christ like. This to me is always the hard part because it exposes all my flaws, But then God uses those flaws to make me better.

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on March 26, 2021 at 5:23 PM

      I agree Teresa! God does use our flaws to make us better and to be a light in this world. I appreciate how you are letting God’s light shine through you. Thanks for your encouraging words! 💕

  2. Renee Gulledge on March 30, 2021 at 11:18 AM

    All too relevant! 🙂

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on March 30, 2021 at 11:27 AM

      Thank you Renee.💕

  3. Margaret Kemp on March 30, 2021 at 2:55 PM

    Shirley, what a great message! What God really wants us for us to offer ourselves— a living sacrifice! Well said!

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on April 1, 2021 at 1:34 PM

      Thank you Margaret! 💕

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