Well this exact situation happened to me and I will tell you, I paused and did not receive the gift. This was my loss, for the gift was a worship CD. Let me give you some context.
Last Sunday we had a guest speaker in our service. While many in the congregation where familiar with him, and even knew him, I did not know him. It would be my first time to hear him deliver God's message. So after he was introduced, he settled himself at the podium, and proceeded to thank the family that was hosting him. He gave them a book by A.W. Tower on prayer. I thought: man, that's so nice of him.
After this he spoke to the congregation and lifted up a CD (for all to see) and asked who would like the CD? It would go to the person who would come up to the front and take it. No one stood up. I was thinking, is this an object lesson? Like when you get to the front, something is going to happen? I most certainly don't want to be the one of whom an object lesson would be made (I'm extremely shy). Again, he repeated the invitation to receive the FREE CD. At this time, one of my brothers who was sitting behind me stood up and received it. I was waiting for the trap to snap as soon as the cheese had been retrieved by the mouse. Nope. No such thing happen. My brother made it back to his seat in one piece. So then I moved from skepticism to disbelief.
Next, he lifted up a book: A Collection of Wit and Wisdom of Adrian Rogers. So I confess, at this time, I thought: I really REALLY want that book! (Exclamation point and all) And mind you, not just because I love books, but because I had actually been saving up to purchase a book with Adrianisms. Just as before, he stated that whoever wanted the book would get it, to just come to the front and receive it. So then I started thinking: This isn't for real; it just isn't. The speaker was stunned, no one was getting up. So much so, that he said something to the effect of: what's going on with you people that you won't accept a gift. So at this moment, I thought: well, this could be for real, but, I should not get up; there is someone else who needs that book and I would just be stealing it from them (if you think this is crazy, you should hear the conversations I'm constantly having with myself - it's the stuff of insane asylums). He repeated his call: if you want this, come and receive it. At this time I found myself in a crisis of belief, a la Henry Blackaby: Either I took action to move forward or stayed still and miss the boat. So it was that I moved from disbelief to a crisis of belief.
Somewhat hesitantly, I got up and sped-walked to the front, received the book and sped-walked back to my seat and sat down (about this time I could hear my adrenal glands pumping out the adrenaline that was running through my body). I barely looked at the book my hands were holding; I was trying to placate the thought that now something was going to happen and I would be, indeed, part of an object lesson. To my incredulity, the speaker went on to give out another gift and promptly started his message. At this time, the 1,001 thoughts that were racing thru my mind evaporated by the love-imbued, Spirit-filled, and truth-packed message that was delivered.
It turns out I was, indeed, an object lesson; and not one, but two. However, it wasn't the speaker who made the lessons - it was God.
Object lesson #1: T God's children, A FREE gift does NOT have strings attached.
I debated about using the word 'free' with gift, because honestly, it's redundant. However, I cannot deny that I have been gifted in times past (as I am sure you have too) gifts that did come with strings attached. It is actually those experiences that have made me cynical about receiving gifts. If this is unfamiliar territory to you, then just think about political campaigns and donors of said campaigns; their donations are not donations, they are 'investments' and as good investors, they expect a good return on their investments.
So, when God is giving us gifts, we should not expect for Him to treat it as an investment. He gives us gifts because He loves us, not to get something in return. The truth is, He doesn't need us or anything we can give to Him, so His gifts are truly NO STRINGS ATTACHED. That is what Grace is: a gift. If there is any guilt present, then know that it is not of God. Guilt is a heavy burden that makes us run away from God, and it is from the enemy. Conviction, on the other hand, is light, making us move toward Jesus and fall at His feat and repent. Conviction is from God. So: Guilt leads us away from Christ. Conviction leads us to Christ.
Back to receiving gifts. I must confess, that it is easier for me to accept a gift from God thinking it is an investment (and therefore I must give Him the return on His investment) instead of a gift (where He doesn't expect anything from me). Why? Well because, just as with salvation, it is easier to rely on my 'good' works to be sanctified. If I am good, then I will get good gifts. However, I have to tell you, I have received gifts from God even though I have not been good. And that's where the monkey wrench comes to ruin my works-based sanctification, because even sanctification is by GRACE, not by works. Otherwise, what would we do with the promise: He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6)? What work was began? Salvation. What will be completed? Sanctification (being made more like Christ). Who's responsible for this? God Himself. The Holy Spirit is tasked with presenting the Bride of Christ blameless. That means, I'm His makeover project! And so are you!
So if you sin, remember to confess your sins for He is faithful and just to cleanse us from ALL iniquity (1 Jn 1:9). And when you receive gifts from God, remember that it is His lovingkindness that leads us to repentance (Rm 2:4), so receive it and thank Him for it.
So now to the other side of the coin...
Object lesson #2: To the lost, a free gift DOES have strings attached.
How many times have we sat back in frustration at how someone with whom the gospel has been shared rejects the gift of life? I know I do. In fact, it doesn't make sense. Why would anyone reject a gift? This sounds awfully familiar...oh yeah! I answered this question by rejecting the worship CD, remember?
They live in a world of ALL strings attached. So when we offer a gift, they are looking for the strings. This object lesson helped me understand those who cannot accept that God would give them life thru Christ Jesus in spite of their wickedness. This is a subset of all the people who ultimately end up rejecting God; so don't think I am generalizing this to everyone. This is just applicable to those who cannot accept a free gift because they see strings where no strings exist.
Just as I have been burned many a time with 'investments', so, too, have these people who cannot fathom a free gift. This lesson helped me put myself in those shoes, so that when I encounter someone who cannot get up from his or her seat to receive a gift, I can love them and encourage them and, most importantly, pray for their eyes to be opened to the stringless gift before their eyes. In other words, do what is at my disposal to lovingly help someone incapable of getting out of their seat to receive the gift being extended to them.
This lesson was heartbreaking; I truly felt such compassion for lost souls who cannot get out of their seats because receiving something free cannot be processed by their minds and hearts. Now I know how to pray.
So next time we encounter someone who seems to want the gift of salvation but is hesitating, pray for discernment. Perhaps he or she is unable to move out of their seat to receive the gift because they expect the strings to be pulled and strangle them. We must do what Jesus did for us, love them as they are and pray for them to see the truth and get a hold of that Truth - appropriate that truth. And let us show them with our lives and love that the gift is truly FREE, and they will find freedom from all the strings that ever were in that Gift.
Well, I'm sure there are many more lessons to draw from this experience (and I would love to hear them if the Lord reveals them to you); for now, I need to mediate on these a bit more.
May the Lord bless you with all spiritual blessings - and may you receive them without guilt or hesitation!