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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”—Acts 20:35 (NKJV)
Interesting factoid: This passage is the only example in the Bible where Christ is quoted as saying something that isn’t recorded in the gospels. Jesus said a lot that wasn’t written down in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. But this saying must have been one of the most notable examples, because it was well known among the first Christians as evidence by Paul using it here to exhort the elders of the church at Ephesus.
Here’s another interesting feature about this quote: It’s the perfect reflection of Christ’s character and mission. If there’s anything that we can say about Jesus, it’s that He was an outrageous giver—He gave instruction, guidance, purpose, blessing to little children, healing, deceased children back to their sorrow-stricken parents, bread, fish, His life, salvation, hope beyond the grave, and so much more.
It’s safe to say that Jesus is the authority on the subject of giving, and what He says about it is as true as truth itself. And He says it’s a greater blessing to give than to receive. The word used here for “blessed” literally means “satisfied.” Giving, not receiving, is the key that opens the door to a satisfied life.
“Giving shouldn’t be compartmentalized into a neat little lock box in our minds exclusively devoted to “money things.” Giving should be set free to bleed out and touch all the important areas of our lives.”
That’s so contrary to the conditioning we receive from our society. We’re almost born with this burden pressing down on us, pressuring us to acquire, to gain, to get more at the end of the day than the person next to us.
Where does that come from?
It doesn’t come from Jesus. Again, He points us in the opposite direction. He tells us that when receiving is our focus, we distance ourselves from a satisfied life. Giving is the way towards that life, and (don’t miss this) giving is a way of life. The Lord never intended giving to be an exceptional event that periodically punctuates our lives. No, it is intended to be an ongoing, steady stream that defines our lives.
Now, if you’re anything like me you’re starting to connect some dots, and you may be envisioning a picture you don’t like. “Okay, I see what you’re doing . . . it’s that time of year, the season of giving . . . I may have dug a little deeper and cut a check or bought some groceries for your outreach . . . and now you’re going to tell me to do this all year long, aren’t you?”
I’m not going there (by the way, “thank you” if you’ve given in those ways). But let’s go back to the example we have with Jesus. His giving touched the entire spectrum of His life, and that should be our mark as well. Giving shouldn’t be compartmentalized into a neat little lock box in our minds exclusively devoted to “money things.” Giving should be set free to bleed out and touch all the important areas of our lives.
“Like how?” Here are five specific (non financial) ways that we can give and give generously:
“I’ll pray for you.” I am as guilty as the next person for saying that and not following through on it. A person pours out their heart about something they’re really struggling with. It ends with them asking for prayer, the perfunctory promise is made, and then life as usual robs both parties of precious prayer.
Let’s be clear; prayer is precious. Jesus routinely woke up early for one thing and one thing only, to pray. If the Son of God valued prayer like that, then it’s valuable!
Attach that to what we’ve covered on giving. Prayer is something incredibly valuable we can give. So we should pray. Really, actually pray, not talk about praying or merely promise to pray, but to be generous with our prayers by praying right then and there in the actual moment.
Do you know what truly qualifies as a generous gift? Something that truly requires sacrifice on your part. And for many of us, nothing demands more out of us than to close our mouths, arrest our minds, lock our eyes on the person in front of us, and simply listen to them talk.
It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? That something like listening should be such a sacrifice. And yet, you know as well as I do that it can be at the very bottom of the list of things we want to do. But a giving heart knows no bounds, and giving is one of the most generous ways we can be generous towards others.
Have you ever considered how Jesus just listened to people? He’s the incarnation of all wisdom and understanding. There’s nothing a person is ever going to tell Him that He doesn’t already know. Yet He sits and listens time and again (without interrupting, I might add), even to the Pharisees who were out to murder Him!
Listening costs absolutely nothing. Make no mistake, though, it’s a true test of our giving. May our listening Lord give us His heart to listen to those He places in our lives.
Isn’t it interesting that the word “give” is hidden in the middle of the word “forgiveness”? There’s a significance here we can’t miss, but we need to stretch our minds to grasp it.
When we’re wronged, and we’re all wronged at some point, we actually gain something . . . the power and privilege to forgive that person for what they’ve done to us. Forgiveness is something we are able to either give or withhold from people. And it goes without saying that giving is infinitely better than withholding!
This may seem impossible for some. Guess what, it is! That is, it’s impossible for us to forgive in certain instances. Some wounds are so deep they elude our ability to forgive. But there’s a forgiveness that flows from God’s Spirit to us that’s more powerful than any wound ever inflicted on us. And we’re blessed when we give it, just as Jesus gave it to those who were in the process of nailing Him to the cross.
I’ve been a Christian for about 25 years now. And as I look back on that time, do you know what has really stood out and shaped my life? When someone encouraged me.
I can’t even tell you how many sermons I’ve listened to or devotionals I’ve read. They’ve all been useful and added up to something important in my life. But they don’t have the kind of staying power like those one on one moments when I was so discouraged, ready to quit, convinced my best was behind me . . . only to be lifted by the encouraging words of someone in my corner.
All of us have this precious commodity on the tip of our tongues. We rarely realize it, though, and allow opportunities to pass by in silence. But giving someone a word of encouragement can be a true “game changer” in their life . . . it was in mine! Encouragement is an investment that brings incalculable returns, we just need to be generous with it.
Remember the point earlier about generosity being proportionate to sacrifice? Well, here’s the big one: time! Perhaps the greatest demonstration of generosity is relative to the time we give to others, because it’s definitely a sacrifice for everyone. It really requires something from us, and once we give it away there’s definitely no getting it back, at least in this life. But time is a necessary part of a lifestyle of giving.
Once again, we have to look at Jesus to put us on the path of proper perspective. Was there ever anyone whose time was more in demand than His? I mean, human history quite literally pivots on His abbreviated life here on earth. Yet He gave His time, precious as it was, to the “nobodies” of His day . . . the harlots, the tax collectors, the beggars, even the outcasts of all outcast, the lepers!
“The Lord never intended giving to be an exceptional event that periodically punctuates our lives. No, it is intended to be an ongoing, steady stream that defines our lives.”
Let Jesus be our guide in this area of giving! May His example silence that persistent voice inside of us that whispers in our soul, “This one isn’t worth your time.” That’s inconsistent with the way of life that Jesus wants us to walk, the only way that will lead us to true satisfaction and peace. Our time is really His time. If He calls us to be generous in giving it to others, then we only rob ourselves when we don’t.
Romans 8:29 gives us the meaning of life—to be conformed into the image of Christ. That’s the true trajectory of our existence, and giving is central to this. The Lord told us it is more blessed to give than to receive. May we trust His words as true and ask Him to give giving its proper place in our lives.
Pastor Dan Hickling
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.