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Why is it more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35)?

more blessed to give than to receive

Acts 20:35, part of Paul’s address to the elders of the church of Ephesus, declares, “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.’” These words of Jesus are not found in the Gospels, but they were obviously known to the Ephesian elders and mentioned by Paul as an authoritative declaration. The Gospel writers did not include everything done and said by Jesus (John 20:30–31; 21:25), and this is one example of a saying passed down orally until Luke recorded it in Acts. Our Lord taught the blessedness of giving.

Giving aligns with Jesus’ example and serves as a testament to the gospel. Jesus came to earth “not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Therefore, giving reflects Christlikeness and offers a way to live out the gospel with our resources. Christians are called to be generous because we serve a God who gives sacrificially (John 3:16).

Giving develops our character, fostering selflessness and countering the natural tendency toward self-centeredness. When we readily give of our money, time, talents, and gifts, we step beyond our little world and serve others. The generous person develops more virtues than the constant receiver and builds responsibility. Other virtues cultivated in our giving include compassion, kindness, joy, and love.

Furthermore, giving fosters contentment. When we generously offer our resources, we express satisfaction in God’s blessings and acknowledge Him as Ultimate Provider. While it is undoubtedly blessed to receive, it is even more blessed to give.

Scripture warns against the love of money, calling it a root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10), and giving financially can uproot this misplaced love. Ecclesiastes 5:10 emphasizes the futility of loving money by stating, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.” There’s a grasping Shylock within each one of us, tempting us to greediness. We combat that temptation by freely giving to those in need.

Finally, giving allows us to accumulate treasures in heaven, “where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). Jesus also said in Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Paul reaffirms this promise of reward for generosity in his instructions to wealthy Christians (1 Timothy 6:17–19) and to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 9:6).

There is some value in receiving. After all, we don’t give anything to gain salvation, but only receive God’s forgiveness by faith. However, in our day-to-day lives, the blessings that come with giving far surpass any gift being received. Indeed, the generous giver reaps a bountiful harvest.

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Why is it more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35)?
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This page last updated: January 4, 2024