I’ve talked before about my dealings with the two main forms of entanglement: obligation and expectation. The Lord has done an amazing work in burning these poisoned vines out of my heart, but like kudzu, these sins are hardy with an extensive web of roots. So I’ve just had another dealing, and this one shook me up. (John also just dealt with the issue of obligation, and he’ll talk about his adventure tomorrow.) Obligation and expectation really go together, but it’s taken me awhile to see just how connected they are.
To recap, I have been a very poor receiver for most of my adult life, and at the bottom of that is pride, yes, but also fear. Fear that someone will give me something and I will end up owing them my very life in return, that I will be forever in their debt, shackled to their every whim going forward. That’s pretty sick, right? Yep. Thing is, I would have said that I was a good giver. I love giving gifts and making someone smile, letting them know I love them. That’s a good giver, right? So, poor receiver, but good giver. Well, not so much.
“If you’re a poor receiver, then you’re an untrustworthy giver.”
The Holy Spirit blasted that right through my brain, and it just made me sick. I was fine with giving gifts, especially really great gifts, because it felt like I was buying my freedom. Now I didn’t owe this person, and I could be at peace with our relationship. But what the Lord showed me was that I was breathing easy because I believed that I held the power. They were now obligated to me and my expectations. There are no victims in the expectation/obligation tug-of-war. That I felt obligated was proof that the expectation was also rooted in me. And that made me a very untrustworthy giver.
Now, the Lord has done the work in my heart to prepare me to see more, to see this barbed anchor in my heart. This is just a deeper repentance for a sadly familiar sin. It doesn’t mean that I’ve never given a clean gift; since my salvation, He’s given many gifts through me that were His pure joy. But that’s the deal—it’s all Him.
Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights;
with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.
James 1:17 HCSB
I want to be cleansed completely of this entangling wickedness, and He’s promised to do it. I want to receive like a little child, freely and happily. And I want to be a vessel for every perfect gift the Father would like to give through me – no strings, just love. Just Him.