Receiving the Spirit with Humility:
The Active Presence of the Holy Spirit, Week 9

by Adam White

photo credit: Ryan Klinck

photo credit: Ryan Klinck

Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?

For me, I would much rather give than receive. I have gotten better with this over the years, but my preference to giving and my aversion to receiving are two issues I still wrestle with every so often. It is not that receiving something from others, be it help, complements, or a gift, is above me. I get that we all need help, remember?

The issue with humility and vulnerability is that they come with receiving, which can be uncomfortable. It takes humility: a willingness to make room to graciously receive something from others. This kind of humility requires letting your guard down, your ego fade, your false self vanish, enough to receive God’s Spirit at work in others who are longing to bring you generosity, grace, love, and forgiveness.

In Falling Upward (Jossey-Bass, 2011), an excellent book about the two phases of life, Richard Rohr defines the false self as “your role, title and personal image that is largely a creation of your own mind and achievements.” The false self is a construct that we build to present to the world that reflects our own efforts at building security. Conversely, the true self is the person who God sees, the person at the core of being.

In this context, humility is the releasing of the sense of personal power, authority, or hierarchy one has with regard to another. Humility is closely related to vulnerability, and the false self resists anything that may bring pain, discomfort, or powerlessness. A willingness to be vulnerable and to allow others to access the true self is a critical element in Christian community. [1]

On the journey of finding our true self in community with others the Holy Spirit guides us to daily receive generosity, grace, love, and forgiveness. Each moment we are confronted with the opportunity to receive generosity from another and see God in the actions of another. Every time we are handed grace in the form of a second chance or restoration to our true self, we are receiving the Spirit with others. When we honestly digest words and loving acts from other people as sacred manna that sustains and cements us as worthy and valued persons, God’s Spirit will be incarnate in community. Finally, when forgiveness is something we actively welcome, not as a single instance or something to shrug off but as a source of healing that can perpetually restore our souls, we will find the Spirit dwelling among us.

The Holy Spirit never stops working to reveal God at work in the world, yearning for each person to receive their true self and humbly live with others. The question that is left is, “Are we ready and open to receive the Spirit?”

Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:

  • What might be keeping you from receiving generosity, grace, love, and forgiveness from others?

  • How might God’s Spirit be inviting you to find your “true self”?


[1] Slightly adapted from Larry DugginsSimple Harmony, (Larry Duggins, 2012).