Last week as the winter storm made its way through Texas, and like many of you, our power went out. As we spent most of the day on Monday without power and as our house got colder and colder, we accepted a friend’s invitation to stay at their house. We took one change of clothes anticipating that our power would be back on the next day. A full 5 days later and we were still guests at our friends’ house.
As we stayed over with our friends, I learned a few things. First, hospitality is a gift of the Spirit. Our hosts could not have done more to make us feel welcomed and comfortable in their house. Their generosity flowed from genuinely compassionate hearts—hearts that have obviously been sculpted by God. Second, through no fault of our friends, I still felt like I was inconveniencing them. I found that I am way more comfortable being inconvenienced by others than I am being the one that is doing the inconveniencing. I would much rather give than be given to, and be assured this is no humblebrag. This is not evidence of some deep spiritual maturity, quite the contrary. It’s evidence that I need to grow in the most basic and fundamental spiritual discipline: receiving. Because it is the same deficiency that causes me to be uncomfortable receiving radical hospitality from a friend, that also causes me to struggle in receiving and accepting the radical and free gift of grace from God. And yet, is there any discipline more important—more fundamental to the Christian life than that?
We love because we have first received love from the Father. We are able to forgive others because we have first received forgiveness from God. We speak about new life to others because we first were dead and received resurrection in Christ. Christians must be people who receive because a posture that says I must earn every good gift from others or must pay back what is given to me is not a posture that is ready to receive grace. Grace is not earned. The gifts of God can never be fully reciprocated. We can merely receive them.