As is the case for most parents, I am constantly surprised by the things my boys say. Take for example what my 10 year-old, Peyton, came up with a couple of weeks back. We were driving home from school, and without any preamble or context he said, “Dad, did you know that there’s only one thing you and Mom ever fight about?” I was certainly intrigued by his comment and also a little apprehensive as to what was coming next, but I took the bait and asked him to tell me more.
“The only time you guys argue is when you are both trying to do something nice for one another,” he told me with a big smile on his face. Penny and I must be doing a great job hiding our real arguments from the boys, but I started wondering what he had observed to make him say this, so I asked for an example.
“It’s like when you’re trying to decide on where to go for dinner,” Peyton said. “You say to mom, ‘We’ll go wherever you want.’ and then she’ll say, ‘No, it’s not about where I want to go. What do you want?’ Back and forth you guys go trying to get the other person to pick the place.”
While I still don’t know what brought this about, I realized that he was actually trying to give us a compliment. Perhaps he’s heard reports from friends about the reasons their parents argue, and he wanted to let me know that he liked that his parents only fight about how they can best serve one another. If only that were true!
What my son doesn’t know, and I don’t plan on telling him, is that his words actually struck home in a very painful way. I’m extremely glad that he’s never had to witness those moments when Penny and I don’t treat each other in a very Christ-like manner, but those “arguments” he has seen and heard are not what he thinks they are. I won’t speak for my wife, but I know that for me, those quarrels are not so much about me trying to be a blessing to my wife, but more about making it obvious that I’m the one who is willing to make the sacrifice.
In an effort to be transparent, I’ll admit that I often struggle with letting others sacrifice in order to do something nice for me. Sometimes, I don’t feel worthy of the blessing that person is offering. At other moments, it’s my pride on display and about me trying to prove that I’m the bigger person. However, by so frequently refusing to accept the sacrifice of others, I am robbing them of an opportunity to express God’s love. In other words, I am stealing their blessing by not letting them bless me!
Making personal sacrifices for the benefit of another is a great thing, and an absolute necessity for any healthy relationship. In fact, Scripture provides us with numerous verses that command us to love, serve, and sacrifice for the benefit of others, but we shouldn’t overlook the importance of receiving a blessing. Consider the words from the well known twenty-third Psalm.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23, ESV)
These beautiful words describe the blessings we receive, not the ones we give. What’s more amazing is that these blessings come from God Himself! Imagine how foolish it would sound if we said to our Heavenly Father, “Thanks for the offer of green pastures and still waters. Sounds awesome, but I’ll pass for now because I’m sure someone else needs it more that I do.” We would never do such a thing! If we are so eager for and willing to receive God blessings, why can’t we readily accept and enjoy the sacrificial blessing someone else offers?
By no means do I want you to stop looking for ways to bless or serve someone else. In fact, we should be doing more of this, especially in those close and most important relationships God has given us. However, we should respond gratefully when someone wants to bless us. Maybe you struggle as I do and don’t feel comfortable letting another sacrifice for your gain, but don’t forget that this is exactly what God did for you when He gave His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.
Today, seek to be a blessing to others, but please realize that may mean you must also let someone else be a blessing to you.