“... It is more blessed to give than to receive”
The example of God HIMSELF The example of the Lord Jesus Christ The example among the Believers
These precious words Paul gave to the Ephesians in Acts 20:33 appear as a reported saying of the Lord Himself - so powerful in their import! They challenge every Believer and are contrary or opposed to our human nature. The ultimate example is Jesus who, in His lifetime, “Gave all and took nothing.”
Here are two basic paraphrases taken from the Apostle Paul:
“To work for the benefit of others as well as your own needs”
“To be careful not to covet the things of others”
These two ideals are fundamental to our daily life and if practiced, will take us part way to following the Lord.
Our thoughts then are now being directed to the joy of giving! Not “shutting up those inner feelings of human compassion.”
We need to see ‘giving’ as an investment, to the Glory of God - not as a personal cost!
Abundantly - another wonderful word about giving
We might explain this simply as being generous, over-supply, overflowing, unrestricted and without limits.
We look first to the very example of God Himself! Everything we see in both the natural and spiritual world is given “in abundance” and to all. Jesus draws attention to this unrestrained quality of our Father in Heaven who first gives His sunshine and His rain to all, to meet their needs, regardless of their responses! (Matt 6:45) then in spiritual needs, in the matter of faith, we read, “He gives generously and graciously to all.” (James 1:5). Eternal Life itself is to come, as Jesus says, ‘ more abundantly’ as only Heaven can provide (John 10:10).
We can become children of our Father!
The family likeness begins in Exodus 34:6, ‘He is full of compassion, pity and shows great love’ from the beginning! It continues in ‘full strength’ in the like example of the Lord Jesus Christ on a daily basis. On more than one occasion we read, of the Lord’s motive, “He was moved with compassion...when he saw...”
Compassion – the one acceptable motive
Here we must face self-examination. The world ‘gives’ sometimes with mixed motivations and other reasons. The Believer can only be driven by a pure, God-like motive. “To give - not expecting return,” is the one way!
Timing is all important
James has another appropriate comment. “What good is there in you saying….God bless you, if you don’t give them the necessities of life?” Here, now is the key to successful giving. I like the adverb, ‘spontaneously’ when gifting. Remember, Exodus 35:5. Here Moses calls to the nation for ‘a wide range gifts’ to go into the tabernacle.
The response was immediate – Israel gave abundantly. Who didn’t, who couldn’t? Who were empty? ... Why, those who had earlier given of their possessions, ‘gold’ to Aaron for the wrong motive and reason. Their gold was simply destroyed and blown away! (Daniel 2:35 too). The same spirit was shown by the nation when David called for gifts for the temple that Solomon would build. The details – 1 Chronicles 29:6-7
The Test of the True Believer
Jesus outlined the test of genuineness, He applies to His followers – by one sign only (John 13:34) “...by this will all men know that you are my disciples, in that you have love one for another.” The Christian Believer should, and must stand out in this world by love applied and practised. By showing, compassion, pity, love and forgiveness within – that it might attract others, ‘to the Lord’s side’ and to become more ‘like Him’.
Bro Neil Todd (New Zealand)