Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It is more Blessed to Give than to Receive


“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35)

I am sure you can imagine where this is heading since it is the time of the year where we consider others and show them our love through the act of giving. Christmas really is one of the most wonderful times of the year. I must confess that every time it rolls around I remind myself of this reality but I so often let my selfishness get in the way of my love for others. I think this is why I need to be reminded that Jesus said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Paul, in Acts 20, is speaking to the Ephesian Elders about his ministry as an example to them as Christians. One of the themes in his address to the Elders is about having a right attitude toward material goods. He says that a proper attitude will come from an understanding of salvation. We know Christmas is the time to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Salvation is the ultimate gift therefore Christ’s coming is the greatest gift for sinners like you and me. Paul says, “Now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). The gift of Christ and his atoning sacrifice is revealed in God’s Word. We read about the gift of salvation through God’s grace in his Word to us. “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life” (Acts 6:23). Our gifts that we give to others should be a reminder back to THE gift: Salvation through Christ.

We should also desire to give sacrificially. We see an example of this in 2 Corinthians 8 where the churches of Macedonia gave generously in their “extreme poverty.” The text goes on to say they gave beyond their means for the sake of helping out their fellow saints. This is why I think the idea of Christmas is a year round event for Christians. This reality of “It is more blessed to give than to receive” should go year round for believers. This may be tough to do but I think it will only be tough because God will be chiseling away our selfishness. Sacrificially giving is not easy but imagine the dependence and trust these churches of Macedonia had by giving in the manner they gave. Why would they give out of their extreme poverty? “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). They gave because they knew the Gospel. They had confidence in the promises of God. They knew that if Christ would leave the glories of heaven to come and die for their sins that they could trust him with everything including their money. Their trust in their Savior allowed them to say with Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

As Christians we have everything we already need in Christ. Every gift under the tree should remind us our great salvation. We did not earn or deserve the gift of God’s grace yet he lavishes it upon us. All our wants and desires should stem from the Gospel. May we be people who give sacrificially but not without joy. Christ came for the purpose of dying to himself in order to obey his Father’s will but in knowing his purpose he went joyfully to the cross. We have much to learn from our Savior. May we live out the Gospel in this practical manner: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

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