Do stingy and receiver seem like strange words to use together? I thought so too, until one day when I was standing in the checkout line at Wal-Mart. I was trying to be inconspicuous as I moved the hole in my stocking so it wouldn’t be so uncomfortable to stand on. The thought came to me, “I’ve provided enough money that you don’t have to wear socks with holes.” I knew it was the Lord, so I immediately got out of line and picked out some new stockings.
Does that seem like a strange thing for the Lord to say to someone? It certainly does, unless you know my background.
I grew up in a very poor family with parents who survived the depression. We had only outdoor plumbing, reused our aluminum foil – if we had any — washed out plastic bags and reused them until they had holes, and potato soup meant potatoes, a little milk, and onion and water – not at all like the rich concoction I make with ham, carrots, celery, cheese, and butter. Let me know if you want that recipe…
My next step in life was a brief marriage to an alcoholic, then 14 years as a single parent who had to be on welfare for several long periods of time.
From there I married a student with no income, so we continued to survive on my income. Then I quit work to have babies when my husband became a resident with a stipend that was several thousand dollars a year less than I had been making.
You can see that thriftiness has had to be a way of life for me for a long time.
So at Wal-Mart the Lord brought up the issue of His provision for me. You see, I had allowed my thriftiness to become stinginess. I was going without things that the Lord had provided, because it had become difficult for me to allow myself to enjoy His provision.
This spilled over into other area of my life, too.
When someone complimented me on my hair or dress, I would dismiss it as nothing. The Lord began to prompt me to say “Thank you,” accepting the compliment instead of rejecting it and the giver.
If someone gave me a gift I would take it, but in an embarrassed sort of way that made them uncomfortable — thus, once again, rejecting their kindness. I was also very careful to repay anyone who gave me a gift with one for them as soon as possible.
After one such incident a friend said, “You are a stingy receiver!” I didn’t really understand what she meant until the Lord pointed it out to me at Wal-Mart.
We can reject the Lord’s provision in a lot of ways.
My husband pointed out to me several years ago that I was no fun to buy gifts for, since I never “needed” anything. If he did buy me something I considered extravagant I often returned it.
You see, long after it was necessary I remained in survival mode.
There are times we need to be extremely frugal. If we are in debt or unemployed we certainly have to watch our pennies. We continue to be frugal in many ways so that we can give more of our income to worthy causes that the Lord presents to us. But it can be sinful to go without things the Lord obviously provides for you. He longs to provide for us as it says in Luke 6:38b “…good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.”
Here are some ways I have been making an effort to receive graciously:
I make every effort to accept compliments with a simple “Thank you,” or by thanking them and sharing something special, like “Dan bought this for me.” or “Tami, my hairdresser, really does nice work.”, thus passing on the compliment to someone else too.
If someone compliments something I’ve cooked, I thank them and offer them the recipe, often saying something about the person who shared it with me.
This year I’ve actually been keeping a list of things I would like for my birthday, which is in November, and for Christmas. Each time I’ve run across something that catches my eye, I just put it on my list. Boy is Dan going to be surprised!
It really is more blessed to give than it is to receive, but there have to be receivers as well as givers. I hope to do my part by being a thankful receiver when the opportunity presents itself.
Don’t forget to stop by the Girls Gathering Place to listen to the latest seminar on Planning for “Tension-Free” Holiday Relationships.
It isn’t too late to sign up for the freebies they are offering either.
Finding Joy in the Journey,
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© 2009 Phyllis Sather
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