Nick Hall: This new year it’s better to receive than give — and this is the greatest gift of all
From the clanging of bells to the passing of the plate, it’s that time of year once again when churches and nonprofits are quick to remind you, “It’s better to give than to receive.” We all obey dutifully — we buy presents for our families, make a year-end donation, and commit to giving more of ourselves through New Year’s resolutions.
We’re experts at giving, but we have a lot more to learn about how to receive.
In a culture where we work our way to the top, receiving a gift is disarming. It’s passive — something that is done to us rather than something we can control. We would much rather earn or take what we want than receive what others want for us.
The Bible tells us that the first mistake humans ever made was taking from God what was intended to be a gift all along. We’re so bad at receiving, we can’t even trust God to give us what’s best.
Instead of making a resolution to exercise more, eat healthier or reduce stress, I want to challenge you this new year to receive directly from God. The apostle Paul wrote to his protege Timothy, “Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” The good news is, you don’t have to climb a mountain, burn incense or practice meditation to hear from God. All you have to do is open a book.
Over the course of world history, no book has made a bigger impact than the Bible. Many people have objections to the Bible, but no one can deny the overall positive impact it has had in fields like healthcare, relief work, and care for the poor. This book has shaped the worldview of hundreds of millions of people over thousands of years, and it can do the same for you.
The main reason people don’t read the Bible is a lack of time or understanding. Today, more tools than ever before are now available to help you receive the Bible. Ministries like Streetlights put the New Testament to hip hop tracks so you can listen on your commute or at the gym. Groups like The Bible Project make short, animated videos to clearly explain books or themes of the Bible.
And if you’ve ever started reading the Bible and quickly lost steam, an initiative called Together in Scripture will make it easy to experience the story of the Bible in an accessible way through short reading plans.
Like all goals, receiving from God is easier to do when we do it with others. This year, millions of people from over one hundred countries will participate in a campaign called Year of the Bible, a worldwide initiative to see more people in the Bible in 2020 than ever before. There is no better time to engage the Bible than right now.
This year, instead of trying harder, would you commit to receive from God? There’s a simple exercise you can practice to put your body in a posture of receiving. Wherever you are, take a moment to turn your palms upward. Simply ask God, “Help me receive what you want to give me this year.”
I believe 2020 can be the best year of your life. And it won’t come because you worked harder or gave more. It will happen because you opened your hands and your heart to receive the transformative wisdom God has for you in his Word.