Genesis 12: 2-3, 6-7
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him. (NIV)
I have started watching Christmas shows. It is that time of year after all.
A prevalent theme in these presentations is that giving presents is more blessed, more honorable and more holy than receiving presents. If you desire a gift, the story goes, somehow that is wrong.
I don’t know about that.
We get a bit of this theme from the book of Acts. Paul, when he is about to head to Jerusalem, says that Jesus himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35) But that quote says more blessed, not less evil. In other words, receiving can be blessed as well.
After all, Simeon wanted a gift. He wanted to see and hold the Messiah before he died.
And Abram (later Abraham), the patriarch of the chosen people, wanted the promised child and lineage. He wanted it so badly that after years of waiting for God’s promise to come to pass, he bowed to his wife’s shortcut idea and caused himself all sorts of problems. But it didn’t mean that wanting to receive the gift was wrong—just the impatience.
So what’s the same between Simeon and Abraham? Why is receiving and wanting a gift so good for them? And can it be good for us as well?
To answer the second question first, yes it can. Giving is indeed good. But sometimes you have to receive first in order to give.
As far as Abraham and Simeon, and many others in Scripture, they were good in wanting a gift for one reason. They wanted what God offered. Wanting something that fulfills a personal need or contributes to greed or any other sin is not good. But hungering for what God would like to give you anyway—that’s blessed.
So this Christmas season, in the midst of giving and loving others, let’s do a bit of receiving. Read the Bible, find out what God would like to give you, and then ask for it.
In that way, we’ll be doubly blessed.
A Sixty-Day Countdown to Christmas