I’ve never had the chance to watch the TV show “Hoarders,” but I hear it’s pretty disturbing. As the title attests, episodes of this A&E show chronicle the stories of people who hoard things. The show seeks to document the journey of those who “cannot part with their belongings.” Take a look:
[No…that’s not a picture of my office…]
I collect a few things—books, bobbleheads, memories—you know, the basics. I would hope, as I’m sure you would, that I would recognize if my “collecting” had gone too far long before I got a call from A&E. I don’t think collecting as a hobby is necessarily a bad thing, as long as you make sure you own the stuff and the stuff doesn’t start owning you. As with anything, collecting should be done in moderation. It is not bad to receive gifts from others; in fact, I believe there is a lot of grace to be had in this regard.
The book of Acts makes statements like “they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people” (Acts 2:46-47). There is grace from God to be had in how we receive that which is given to us. We need grace, not only in giving, but in receiving.
Have you ever attempted to give a gift to someone who refused to receive it? They turn down the gift or want to give it back because they feel bad, or they don’t want to put you out, or they are upset because they don’t have anything for you. That’s an awkward situation. The grace of receiving that we see in Acts 2 is humble, thankful, genuine, and glorifying to God. We all need the grace to receive in our lives.
The more obvious form of God’s grace in this topic is the grace of giving. We see this everywhere in Scripture. How many times is God’s love expressed in His giving? The Bible uses the word “agape” over 480 times, a Greek word meaning “self-sacrificial love.” We see it in places like John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave…” John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.” There is gracious receiving, and there is gracious giving. We need both graces.
The opposite of graciously giving and receiving is selfishly taking and hoarding. We can take instead of receive, and we can hoard instead of give. When entitlement or arrogance or selfishness enters into the equation, receiving quickly becomes taking. And when fear, self-centeredness, materialism, or greed comes on the scene, the grace to give is swallowed up by the propensity to hoard.
This Christmas season I’m praying for the grace to give and the grace to receive to be evident in my life and family.