Janie B. Cheaney – Lavish gifts

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, September 23rd. Good morning to you! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Here’s WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney on lavish grace.

JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: Remember a couple of months ago, when I shared how my moving plans were derailed? How, after years of longing to move closer to town, my plans came to an abrupt halt, with an equally abrupt change of attitude? Well, the plans didn’t stop. In fact, I came up with a whole crop of new ones for home improvement.

Some of those plans had to be scaled back. A lot. But one seemed feasible: a deck outside our back door. About 9 by 16, with a corner bench. I’m no carpenter, but I knew someone at my church—one of those guys who can do anything. I asked him to suggest a reliable craftsman. “Oh,” he said, “I can build it.”

And he did. It wasn’t that he was retired with time on his hands. Nope—a family man with young kids and a job, he volunteered early mornings and weekends to build that deck, with the help of a few other guys. A laborer is worthy of his hire, but I didn’t hire him. He did it for free.

Have you ever been in a position where you felt uncomfortable about accepting a gift? Not those designated gift occasions of Christmas and birthdays, but other times when a blessing just came out of the blue or you were in a bind and needed help that you couldn’t repay? I know people, and you do too, that you just can’t seem to do anything for. They insist on repaying—not necessarily in money, but in reciprocal favors. Sometimes so much that you start feeling you should repay them.

“It is more blessed to give than receive.” Paul said this in his farewell to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20, and he attributes the quote to Jesus himself. Even though there’s no record in the gospels, we needn’t doubt that Jesus said it, or that it’s true. We are blessed by giving. I know someone with a chronic illness who admits she struggles with accepting help that she can’t repay. We remind her of the more-blessed-to-give principle. Don’t deprive us of a blessing!

Why is it so hard to just accept? We all know there are takers in the world, and we don’t want to be them. But we also don’t want to be debtors. Might God be using these non-reciprocal gifts to remind us, in practical, down-to-earth terms, of his impractical, out-of-this-world gift? Paul, again, reminds us that he did not merely pay our debt—he lavished grace upon us in Christ Jesus—see Ephesians 1:8.

The next time you’re struggling to accept a favor, draw a deep breath and think about that word “lavished.” Then open your hands and accept it.

I’m Janie B. Cheaney.


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