“Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” (John 12:3)
The Christian life is about giving our time, support, service, and love. Many pieces of scripture encourage us to give. Even though all of this teaching is good, it isn’t enough.
The Christian life is about giving, and it’s also about receiving. In today’s scripture, Jesus receives a tremendous gift from Mary when she anoints His feet with expensive perfume. Jesus graciously and thankfully received her gift. He didn’t deny it, refuse it, or whisk her away.
Many of us have a hard time receiving gifts. Why are we sometimes embarrassed to receive nice things or complimentary words? Why do so many prefer to give than to receive?
I once knew a husband and wife whose marriage became strained because he struggled to receive her gifts. She wanted to give him nice gifts to make him feel good, and doing so also made her feel good. Sounds like every husband’s dream, right? Not so fast.
One year she gave him a beautiful watch for his birthday. He said all the right things when he opened the gift, but he didn’t put it on. When she asked him why he said that it didn’t fit.
A few days later, she asked him if he had had the watch fitted, but he said not yet. A week later, while crying, she asked, “Isn’t my watch good enough for you?” He said, “That’s not it. No one has ever given me such a wonderful present. I feel like I don’t deserve it.”
Before we can do any giving in the Christian life, we must receive the grace of Jesus. We don’t receive His grace because we deserve it. We receive it because we need it and because Jesus wants to give it. Out of gratitude for all Jesus gives to us, we then give to others.
The Christian life is about being both gracious receivers and gracious givers. Jesus knew how to give and how to receive. He’s our Master. I encourage us to follow His example. One of the most loving gifts we can give to someone is to thankfully and graciously receive their gifts.
- Do you have a hard time receiving like the husband did in my example? If so, how come?
- If you have hurt someone because you didn’t know how to receive their gift, their praise, or their encouragement, would it be helpful to go back and try to redo that moment?
- Moving forward in your life, what would help you to become a more gracious receiver and a more generous giver?