Wednesday, August 03, 2011

When giving is receiving

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 33:1-20

TO CHEW ON: "'Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.' Then he urged him, and he took it." Genesis 33:11

Esau's first refusal of Jacob's gift may have been inspired by Middle East etiquette. But I believe Jacob was genuinely relieved when his brother finally accepted his present of goats, sheep, camels, cattle and donkeys (Genesis 32:13-15).

The impulse to give springs from a variety of motivations:

Sometimes we give because it is just the thing we do in our culture, as in leaving a small gift for someone after staying in their home or when celebrating someone's birthday or wedding anniversary.

At other times we give because we don't want to feel beholden or in the debt of someone.

And sometimes we give because we are so full of the generosity poured out on us, we can't help but spill it over onto others.

Esau didn't have a gift for Jacob, so perhaps one can assume this gift of Jacob's was not given to conform to custom. I'm sure there was some assuaging of guilt on Jacob's part. Maybe he saw his material gift as a sort of payback for absconding with the birthright and blessing, which were rightfully Esau's as firstborn son. However, Jacob also cites God's gracious dealings with him as a reason for his generosity.

In the end Esau's acceptance of Jacob's gift (signifying, perhaps, that he forgave Jacob?) was itself the greatest gift Jacob could have wished for.

Let's be aware of the dynamics of gift-giving, and be motivated above all by God's generosity to us. And let's also be alert to the fact that sometimes our gracious receiving a gift from someone is in itself a gift to them.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your generous gift of Jesus. Help me to give out of a heart that is full of gratefulness to You, and to be sensitive to times when giving means receiving. Amen.

MORE: Gift-giving customs

Giving gifts, especially in business, carries a different significance in the various regions of the world. The article "International Gift-giving Protocol" explains appropriate gift-giving customs in various countries and cultures in the world.




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