The Shovel and the Spoon
I want to ask you a question: Are you the kind of person who is able to relate to others? Let me put this another way. If you are a husband, can you relate to your wife? If you work in an office, can you relate to your coworkers? Are you able to interact with others even if you are not a “people person”?
I believe the health of our relationships and our ability to show mercy to others is directly linked to our ability to receive mercy from God. Right now, God is offering us amazing things. But are we taking all of what he is offering? Perhaps we aren’t receiving from God because we don’t think we’re worthy. Or maybe we’ve been led to believe that what we have right now is better than what God has for us. Whatever the reason, we aren’t able to receive God’s love. And as a result, we aren’t able to share that love with others.
When we come to God, he dispenses grace and mercy on us with a shovel. God says, “You need grace? Well, let me give it to you in abundance. You need more today? Well, my mercies are new every single day, so before you even hit the snooze button tomorrow I will be pouring it into your life.” He’s got lots of angels and lots of shovels, and he’s heaping these big shovelfuls of mercy on us every single day. But what happens if we can’t receive it? We will go to the people in our lives who have messed up and say, “Oh, you need some grace? Sure, let me give you some with this spoon.” We will expect more from them than we want God to expect from us. We will treat them differently than the way we want God to treat us.
This is why our capacity to receive God’s mercy is at the heart of our role in reconciling relationships that have been busted apart. When we are more prone to give the spoon than the shovel, it means we have really not received the fullness of God’s grace. It means we only believe that God has given us the spoonful of grace.
To relate to others, we have to understand how Jesus relates to us. We have to recognize he took on the constraints of entering this world so he could relate to us. We also have to recognize that Jesus does not give us what we deserve. We deserve death, but he gives us life. Also, we need to recognize that Jesus comes all the way to us. He is merciful when we are wrong, gracious when we are stubborn, and loves us before we are lovable. He loves us before we are even able to love him.
So, in the same measure you receive from God, you will give to others—and this will determine if you are relatable. As John sums up, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God” (1 John 4:7). That’s the goal: to love one another and dispense mercy with the shovel—not the spoon—because we recognize what we have received from God.
What is one thing you learned about relationships from the family in which you grew up? How has your family influenced your relationship with God?
How have you received the amazing gifts that God offers you? In what ways have you been reluctant? How has this affected your relationship with God and with yourself?
How has your understanding of God impacted your relationships with others? Are you more likely to dispense grace to others with a shovel or a spoon? Explain.