For a time we had the joy of serving a sweet student couple a home-cooked meal once a month or so. It was especially fun when simple things like roasted broccoli lit up their faces because the cafeteria veggies were always soggy and steamed.
One day, they asked if they could bring dinner to us instead. My instinct was to thank them and decline.
Dorm cooking is tricky. Neither had a ton of experience in the kitchen. They’d have to squeeze it in between homework, class, and other activities. And, to the point – feeding people is how I show love! Hospitality is my thing.
When Our Gifts Get In the Way
“It’s better to give than to receive,” Acts 20:35 says. Sometimes I’ve let my gifts, like showing hospitality, get in the way. At times, that’s out of pride. But other times, I’m just holding too-narrow a view of what giving and receiving is about.
Are any of these indicators of this struggle true of you, too?
- We’re the first to offer help, but we never ask for it
- Using our strengths to hide our weaknesses
- Feeling like a particular ministry or service can’t go on without us
- We need thanks and appreciation or we grow bitter
- Try to get God on board with opportunities that suit us, even when we know they may be beyond our current capacity
- Serving in the same way a long time and can’t fathom that God would ever call us to something else
- Sometimes serving just because we don’t trust someone else to do it well
- Instead of giving of what God generously gives us, we give out of our own strength
- Getting territorial or defensive about our serving or giving
- Comparing our gifts to others’ instead of being thankful that others are different than us
Our Gifts Get in the Way When We Can’t Receive
The body of Christ is made up of many parts, each with particular gifts. But the purpose of our God-given gifts, in the end, is the same.
We’re meant to depend on one another, to work together to grow up in Christ, to each take part in God’s glorious work of bringing people to Himself. When we disconnect from this great purpose, we can let our God-given gifts get in the way of loving God and neighbor.
God-given gifts, used without humility and pure hearts, ultimately get in the way.
If humility and pure hearts aren’t part of our giving, then we may seem like we’re being generous, but we’re really giving to ourselves. We’re giving to our pride or our pleasure. Maybe we’re giving ourselves the gift of routine or getting to stay in our comfort zone.
We’re misusing our gifts if we’re putting others first externally so we can put ourselves first internally.
We’re not just smothering others’ gifts by not receiving graciously. We’re also using others to build ourselves up in some way.We're misusing our gifts if we're putting others first externally so we can put ourselves first internally. Click To Tweet
The Goodness of Giving and Receiving
Thankfully, we said yes to the friends who wanted to bring a meal over. Actually, my guy probably did before I could protest.
But either way, a few weeks later they carried a hot, aromatic meal through our front door. It was delicious, and quite nice to enjoy the meal without all the cleanup in our kitchen. They seemed as happy with our thanks as they usually were with my home-cooked meals.
I’m so thankful my love for showing hospitality didn’t end up staying in the way that time. Our friendship might have become quite one-sided. Instead, it’s grown. We get to share in a lot of things. This is what God’s Word refers to over and over through the phrase “one another.”
In this helpful infographic by Jeffrey Kranz, all the “one anothers” of the New Testament are laid out, showcasing how important this issue is. Scroll through to see all the verses and the purposes “one another” accomplish – like humbling us, showing love, and unifying us. Reflecting on this can certainly help us remember the purpose of our god-given gifts and the goodness of both giving and receiving.
Have you ever let your God-given gifts get in the way? Have you ever stepped back so someone else could use their gifts and been blessed as a result?