I placed a cart out on my front lawn near the sidewalk and taped a sign on it that read “FREE” and then waited. Fairly soon, a man pulled up and looked the cart over and under and then came and knocked on my door.
He wanted to give me some money for it. I told him it was free. Turns out, he is a neighbor who does lawn work for a living. My front yard had been recently mowed so he asked about the back. After more conversation, I agreed to let him mow my yard in exchange for the cart because he wouldn’t accept no for an answer and the back yard did need mowing.
His concerns about receiving something for free aren’t just his alone. I am uncomfortable at times taking something for free. In fact, this morning, the driver in front of me at Starbuck’s paid for my tea. I was not in a position to discuss that with him/her because they had driven off before I even knew about the gift. Having paid for the person’s order behind me several times at this particular coffee shop, I know the joy that comes from giving. In order to give however, there needs to be a receiver. That seems to be the harder part.
God’s grace is a free gift and yet how often do we attempt to attach works to the gift. No amount of works will settle the indebtedness we owe Jesus for His gift.
Frank Powell puts it like this:
“Jesus shows up, hands you a gift (new life) beyond value and never expects you to return the favor. You can’t. Christians must learn the art of receiving. It’s the only posture that makes room for Jesus.”
Receiving a free gift is a humbling experience. Children have mastered receiving and we should as well. My neighbor left with the cart and his pride and I got my yard mowed so perhaps it was a win/win but I feel like we both lost a little in that transaction. Giving and receiving are ways of connecting with others and recognizing that no one needs to win. We need each other and we need the grace that is found in the giving/receiving interaction. Maybe if we could practice that with others we would become better at receiving what Jesus paid such a tremendous price to give us for free.
Father, forgive me for the times I have closed my hand to a free gift offered whether the gift came from you or a person. Help me to open my hands to all that You have for me and help me to be open to receiving what others may have for me as well. Thank You for the gift of grace and salvation and Your unending, never changing love. In Jesus’ name, amen.
pic credit: csoline.com