The character of Ebenezer Scrooge lurks in our minds as the icon of greed and stinginess, yet I am convinced it was not only Scrooge's unwillingness to give that made him stingy, but his unwillingness to receive.
I once heard a teacher say that the Eucharist is an invitation into the dynamic and abundant love of the Trinity. Put simply, God is a generous giver, but how are we at receiving?
A few times within a week, I had friends offering me gifts. I found that I (in an effort to be considerate and not impose too much) was squelching their generosity by my inability to receive abundance. One such friend offered me small pieces of art she had made, saying I could pick whichever ones I wanted for me and my family... I sheepishly chose one, all the while thinking there were others I like but I ought not. Another friend took me out for lunch, and while all the food looked good I quickly found the cheapest thing on the menu. My friends were showing their love and appreciation for me in their generosity but because of my own mindset I was unwilling to JUST RECEIVE.
I think we are a people that hates asking. Those who ask are entitled, we say to ourselves. People should stop asking and just take care of themselves, we think. "Tis better to give than to receive." This may well be true but it still requires someone in the receiving role. I love giving, contributing and working hard to earn things. I think it's important. I also need to be reminded sometimes that part of love and friendship is just receiving.
So the next time someone offers you a gift, just receive it with gratitude. You don't need to reciprocate, you don't owe them anything. If someone offers you the gift of praise, just receive it. The spotlight will only last a moment and you will allow someone the honor of acknowledging you. If it's a gift, no matter how small or how big, just receive it with gladness.
We are the ones shrinking generosity by our inability to receive because we are the misers. Don't be Scrooge, be a person. Just receive.