Many years ago a very godly man told me that I needed to learn to be a good receiver. I was an ardent “striver” and knew little of what it meant to receive. I was somewhat like Peter who refused to let the Lord Jesus wash his feet. He was unwilling to receive because he thought he could wash his own feet. And so he could, but, he certainly could not cleanse himself of his sin. And if he was not willing, in humility, to let the Lord Jesus wash his feet, he was not willing to be cleansed of his sin.
It is a great paradox that the Creator would address us, who are so insignificant, little, and limited, and tell us as He told Israel: “I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth WIDE, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10). Why were those in Israel admonished in this way? Because they needed to see that they were created to RECEIVE. “But as many as received Him…to them gave He power…” (John 1:12). “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you…” (Acts 1:8).
All through Scripture the message is the same; man is born without the capacity to truly live as God meant him too. He does not have the life of God nor does he even know it. He is a prisoner of his limitations and cannot go any higher or farther than those very finite limitations. He is a prisoner of his sins. When Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be born again He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). He was seeking to convince Nicodemus to receive from God the Holy Spirit. Nicodemus, with all his learning, religion, and cultural respectability, was nothing, had nothing, could do nothing to earn eternal life. He needed to receive it from above.
The question is never whether or not God will give to us, He gave His Son. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). The question is whether I can, and will receive. Receiving is our ONLY hope. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (John 1:12).
The same principle is applicable not only in salvation but in the Christian life. God works differently, at different times, in every individual’s life, to bring him to an ever increasing realization of his helplessness. God seeks to unveil to each believer that Christ IS his life. “And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). “For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him…” (Colossians 2:9,10).
How extraordinary, that we who are nothing, should be put in a position by our Father, to receive of His fullness. One day that fullness shall be realized and manifested in all of its glory. Now, it is a question of how much of that fullness am I willing to receive from Him?
One last illustration from Scripture. In John’s gospel, chapter 15, we are confronted with the relationship of the branch with the vine. The branch has been put into union with the vine. The branch becomes one with the vine in order to receive from the vine its life. And so, today, this is true of us. We are IN Christ, that we might receive all from Him by faith. God wants us to receive from Him all that we need to live a life pleasing to Him. and He wants us to share that Life with others.
Are our mouths open only just a little bit? If so, we have not understood how needy we are, nor how gracious God is. Or are our mouths WIDE open, like those of newborn birds in the nest? Those tiny creatures open their mouths wide to receive all that their mothers can provide.
God gives abundantly, that we might have all in abundance to give. May He give us grace today to be good and consistent receivers of His mercy, and of the abundance of His Life.