It was one year, seven months, and 22 days since the gift was presented. Bob and Bea McElvain came to our Golden Wedding Anniversary party August 30, 2014. They gave us a gift card to Patti’s 1880’s Restaurant in Grand Rivers, Kentucky. We enjoyed that meal April 21, 2016.
As we ate and a few running days since then, I’ve been reflecting on gifts and grace.
- A gift doesn’t cost the recipient anything. Even if the price for an item were $1,000.00 and the person sold it to me for $1.00, it wouldn’t be a gift but a bargain — a good bargain but a bargain because I had to pay the $1.00 to receive the benefit. [tweetthis]Our salvation is a gift — not a bargain.[/tweetthis] “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9, NKJV).
- Even though I don’t have to pay anything, I may have to do something to receive the gift. Our delicious and abundant meal was completely free to us. But we had to go to Grand Rivers, Kentucky, order from the menu, chew the food and swallow it to receive the gift. But showing up and enjoying the meal didn’t mean we earned it. The food was free.
- In receiving many gifts, you have to be present to win. Our family shopped at a grocery store just off the square in Centerville, Tennessee when I was growing up. They often gave tickets when we bought groceries. On a Saturday afternoon, they would draw a ticket from a big basket. The person who had the winning number would win the prize. I remember the Saturday they gave away a Shetland pony, bridle, and saddle. I wanted that pony. They had a rule on the contest: you have to be present to win. Being present didn’t mean you earned the prize, but it was necessary to receive the gift.
That principle is true with God’s gifts. A person has to be “in Christ” to receive any spiritual gift. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
- The fact that a person takes a long time to accept the gift doesn’t mean they aren’t interested, and will never accept it. We like to go to Patti’s. We weren’t rebellious at the offer of the gift. It took a while (one year, seven months, and 22 days) for us to be where we were ready to accept the gift fully.
There have been times when I have offered and encouraged others to accept God’s gifts. It has been days, months, and years. I see no interest or movement in that direction. That is from my perspective. They may be very interested and moving even as I write this post. I shouldn’t assume their lack of interest because I can’t see it.
- There is a limit to grace. Years ago, a friend gave us a gift certificate to a restaurant. We talked about going. We knew it was good. We had eaten there before. Several months later we went. We were hungry and anticipating a good meal. The restaurant was closed. We had waited too long. The certificate was useless. We have to use God’s gift card before the time limit expires — death or Jesus’ return.
- I was able to extend more grace because of the grace I had been given. When we received the bill, we figured the tip for the gracious waitress. She did an excellent job. She’s been working at Patti’s 25 years! There was some money left on the card after we figured the usual tip. We decided to give her that also.
But I didn’t give her the extra from “my” money. It didn’t cost me anything. It was part of the gift given to me. That’s true of the grace I extend to others. I only give what God has given me. Gail and I give liberally. But we only give what’s been given to us.
God promised to give us everything we need to do everything He wants us to do.
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for Go loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
[tweetthis]I don’t want to fail to share what I have with others because I’m afraid God will run out of gift cards.[/tweetthis]
I don’t want to get discouraged when someone doesn’t use the gift cards I’ve given them. It may take one year, seven months, and 22 days — or longer to see the results. Or I may never see it.
[tweetthis]I need to give because I need to give — not just to see the results.[/tweetthis]