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“But as many as received Him, to them He gave authority to become children of God, to the ones believing into His name; who were born not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of men, but were born of God.” John 1:12,13
I really wish I could speak and understand other languages as though I were a native speaker. I would love to understand the original Biblical manuscripts in Hebrew and Greek for myself. I would love to hear those words directly in the native tongue, to understand the nuances and the culture, without having someone else help me, well, other than You, Holy Spirit. I would love to speak Tagalog just to be closer to the people. Or any other dialect that’s being spoken in whatever area of the Philippines I travel to. I just want to be closer. I want a deeper understanding. I don’t want to be superficial. I want to be real, genuine, and invested. But, I also find that I need to be invested in.
Now I can’t say I’m any Biblical authority. I’m not in any way. I’m just someone searching for a deeper relationship in You, Lord, and I’m trusting You to deepen that relationship by bringing me to know You more every day. That’s why I chose today’s verses. (Well, actually, it’s that You led me to them.) But in being led, I was led to choose them from The Interlinear Bible which is in Greek/English. Because maybe the original intent matters still today. Maybe adding a word slightly detracts. Like if the sun were just a smidgeon moved off it’s course, life on earth would cease. So, maybe delving into the words matters and making sure I understand Your intent really matters. .
So John is explaining Your purpose and how You came into the world. And there were people who ought to have readily received You who didn’t, but there were others who did receive You. Well, what does it mean to receive You? Because this is going to have everything to do with my faith, that word “pisteuo.” I’m pretty sure that it matters how I receive You.
The Greek word for receive here is “lambano.” It can mean to take or to get hold of. And their is an urgency to our getting hold of You, Lord. But it’s not in the sense that You are ever something that I can control. It’s more of a sense of grasping the knowledge and infinite necessity of You. Ahh! It’s more than that. Listen to John the Baptist’s statement in John 3:27, “A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given from heaven.” Am I understanding that when I say I have received You, Jesus? What does that really mean?
One thing it means is that I’m not the one making things happen or bringing things to pass. I’m not in charge of my destiny or anyone else’s. You alone are in charge of that. It’s not even my battles I’m fighting and they are not dependent on me. This is Your battle and You have invited me into Your army not because You need me, but because I absolutely need You. There is no prize and no victory unless You win it for me. I don’t even get patted on the back for what I’ve achieved. My reward comes from what You have done in me. ” No, everything about us begins with God’s gift. What we have or don’t have, what we enjoy or don’t’ enjoy, our bodies, our jobs, our circumstances, our dreams and desires – all of it is in God’s hand.” (Skip Moen)
This is that word “lambano” again. Remember how it can mean, “to receive”, “to take”, “to seize”? John is trying to tell us that God is sovereign. Everything we have is a gift from You, Lord. So, the point is, do I really believe this? If I did, wouldn’t it change my life and my attitude and how I looked at things? “Would you continue to complain about your troubles? Would you go on bragging about your victories? Would you still be looking for that break? Or would life become the glorious journey of contentment with God’s gifts?” (Skip Moen)
But the problem often lies within my attitude. How have I received You, Lord? Because I came upon this other Greek word today. It’s “hupolambano.” Skip Moen tells me that it “combines the thought of taking with being under.” But it’s not the idea of taking with being under authority. On the contrary, it’s more of the idea of taking it under consideration. We see this used when You, Lord, were at the house of the Pharisee. And this woman pours ointment on your feet and washes them with her hair and her tears and even kisses your feet. And the Pharisee is upset because she is a sinner and You are letting her do this. So You tell him the parable about the two debtors. And You ask which debtor will love the creditor more for relieving his debt, the one who owed much or the one who owed little. His answer was, “I suppose the one he forgave more.” Listen to what Skip says on this. “It is as if to say, ‘I’ll take it under consideration. I’ll think about it.’ It is condescending agreement. ‘Yes, Jesus. You made your point.’ This is acknowledgment without commitment for Simon the Pharisee does not admit that he is the one who stands convicted before God. He is acting the part of the defense lawyer. ‘Objection sustained.’ Point given but only a technicality. In his world, the category ‘sinner’ could never apply to him.” But thank You, Lord, I know this technicality applies to me.
Unless I receive You, it’s not just that I can’t give You, it’s more than that. Unless I receive You, unless I get hold of You in my life, unless I get under Your authority, Your protection, Your provision, I am nothing. Without You, I am lost already, everything is meaningless, because it was never about me, but it’s always been about You. Receiving is an important concept. Because it’s not about what I get. I think we too often equate receiving with accumulation. But it’s not that I am taking hold of or seizing You in that sense or even taking hold of or seizing the blessings that come with You. I am getting hold of them in acceptance. I can’t take without remaining in You. I am never seperate or on my own. It’s all part of You. It’s all being in You. Outside of You is nothing. It’s all about Who I receive, not what I receive. Skip Moen (yes, him again) restated Acts 20:35 this way, “It’s more blessed to give than to accumulate- to take hold or seize.” And think about it, isn’t that the truth? We are blessed first by receiving You and in that blessing have the authority to bless others so they might receive You. It’s not about what I accumulate in You and from You. It’s just all about the blessing that is You and living in You.
There is one more use of “lambano” that I think ties in here. Luke 2:25 speaks of a man named Simeon who was waiting for the coming of the Messiah. He got to see Jesus at the Temple before he died. Scripture describes him as a devout man. “‘Devout’ is the translation of eulabes and eulabes comes from eu (good) and lambano (to take). The word means taking the good and proper attitude toward what is received. It is a word about reverence and respect. When the Bible calls someone “devout”, it means that this person displays the correct attitude toward the things that God has given.” (Skip Moen) So, am I displaying the correct attitude toward the things God has given and toward God Himself? Am I, Lord?
Wow, Lord, I really didn’t get far today, did I? Or did I? Because maybe, just maybe, learning how to receive You and to receive all things in my life of You, is what real faith is all about? And I know that I am having a tough time right now in receiving some things. I don’t want to answer in noncommittal to You. I don’t want to respond with an “I suppose, ” answer. I want to receive You and Your plans for me with joy, even in the tough times. I need to remember that You are ALWAYS SOVEREIGN. There is never a situation in which You are not in control. So, if You are in control, and I know You are, why am I complaining? Because then my complaining is not really at the circumstances, but at You. Lord, forgive me. So, give me a heart of gratitude in You so when the little things seem to be falling big, I can love and serve and give thanks instead of complaining. Remind me continually Who I have received and teach me to totally rely on You.