In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” These words should be near and dear to our hearts during this Christmas season. Paul is quoting Jesus here in Acts chapter 20 and what He says is very consistent with teachings elsewhere in scripture.
In Luke, Jesus tells the story of the widow’s mite, in which He emphasizes that it isn’t the size of the gift that matters, but rather the sacrificial nature of the giving. Way too often we give out of our abundance. Jesus’ point in this story is that the giving should cut deeper than our surpluses. We’ve heard it told that we should give until it hurts. Better yet would be to go well beyond that point and give until it feels good!
There is no end to the number of opportunities each of us has to give. Even in these tight economic times, we have so much more than people from third world countries and the less fortunate in our own nation. These are times when our giving counts for even more in the lives of those who are suffering. What about the elderly widow down the street eking out an existence on Social Security benefits? Or the homeless man around the corner from your office who doesn’t have the clean clothes in which to even apply for a job? Or the single mom struggling to scrape up enough for a simple gift for each of her kids?
I know a family who decided to forego the usual glut of gifts under the Christmas tree and give the money they would have spent on each other to a well-deserving charity. Another couple celebrated their first Christmas together by “adopting” a little girl and giving her the Christmas she would never have. This was their gift to each other.
Way too often we’ve fallen into the habit of asking (secretly, of course!) “What’s in it for me?” when we give. The truth be known, the old adage is true: you can never out-give God. When we give with the selfless motive of helping others less fortunate, God will bless us in that giving.
But that is not why we do it. We give because God first gave to us. He sent His Son to sacrifice His life for our sins that we might be reconciled with our heavenly Father.