It’s More Blessed to Give Than to Receive? Really?

giving flowers

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

Meg’ll like that, I thought, tucking in a gift card with the note. Meg is my friend’s daughter. She was turning 10.

But as I sealed the envelope, the old unfair bee stung. Even if she never remembers us on our birthdays.

The Word For Weary Givers

Don’t grow weary in doing good. For at the right time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. -Galatians 6:9

Why am I always the giver, the initiator, the one who remembers? I love to give, but why does it feel like I give more than I get?

It might be partly a love language thing. Words and gifts might be more my native tongue than, say, service or touch. When I start begrudging giving, that might play a wee little part. But language isn’t the main thing.

I know that because almost instantly the living, dividing Word moved in. It shoved me off the dark horse racing off to Self-Pity Land. I’ll tell you what God said.

Shut Your Mouth, Girl. And Open Your Eyes.

I am unworthy- how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. -Job 40:4

Abigail, stop. Halt den Mund! What do you have that you did not receive? Start seeing your gifts, my girl!

See the health and peace you’ve had all these COVID-19 days. See the family who loves on your sons. Give thanks that you and Jim have jobs. Remember your friends. Rejoice at the rhododendrons and rhubarb.

God didn’t audibly say those words, but through his Word he called to me. Give thanks, my Girl. Open your eyes. I’ve given you so many gifts.

Because we’re all givers and takers.

We’re All Givers And Takers

You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. -2 Corinthians 9:11

Paraphrased: We are receivers so that we can be givers. God gives us gifts- financial, spiritual, uncanny memories for birthdays and anniversaries-so that we can channel those gifts to others. But there’s more.

Christians are given grace and give grace so that God will get thanked. God made us to get and then give, so that he will be praised. What’s deadly is to let his love flow into your life without finding an outlet in love for others. Receiving is not bad. It’s not- getting is also a blessing. It’s just that Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Jesus, who came to earth to give his life (Mark 10:45) and told his disciples, Freely you have received, freely give (Matt. 10:8).

Which brings me to a big reason giving is more blessed.

Why Giving Is More Blessed

From his abundance we have all received one blessing after another. -John 1:16

Giving reminds me that I live by the grace of a giving God. The God who so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son. When we give we are blessed because it we are becoming more like our giving God.

Talk about perspective. Selfish me says, Why put yourself out for them? Why initiate and spend your time on them? They don’t bother with you.

That’s sin talking. Sin does something terrible to me. Sin turns me in on myself, Paul Tripp says. It makes me obsessed with my wants, my needs, my feelings. I want, I want, I want, I want, I want. Sin turns me inside out. Focusing on how much we give and how little we get is a sin (1 Thess. 5:18, Phil. 2:14).

When you give- forget, when you receive- remember. That’s a truth.

And the truth of a giving God’s turns us right-side out again. It did last week after I sent Meg’s birthday card. So next time giving feels more like sting than blessing, let’s remember God’s truth.

It really is more blessed to give.

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Winter of our Discontent

It begins with a grumbling mood, and yourself still distinct from it: perhaps criticizing it. And yourself, in a dark hour, may will that mood, embrace it. Ye can repent and come out of it again. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood, nor even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself going on forever like a machine.   -C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

I took the dare at 5:40 pm. I tripped on two and three at 6:24. All it took was one look at a friend’s well “liked”post.

Though the righteous man may fall seven times, he won’t be hurled headlong; for the Lord holds his hand. Up for more at 6:27. 

Now I dare you. 

Yes, you. The one who stole into this hoping for a mommy-blog with a happy end. I don’t know this end; I’m just a week in. But I know it’s needful. It holds promise for this life and the life to come. Will you take the Ella Spees challenge?

It may just save your life. Remember Romans 1: They neither glorified God, nor gave thanks, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. So began their descent. Our descent if we’re not careful.

A national language? We’ve got one, and it’s not English. It’s entitlement. It’s, You deserve a break today, and Fight for your right. It’s, You deserve a beautiful life. And, The moment you start to wonder if you deserve better, you do. Really? And, If they don’t appreciate you, they don’t deserve you? Who said? Entitlement is our native tongue.

It’s how the serpent spoke to Eve, and she was deceived. Maybe he believed it first, with the angels who did not stay within their own positions of authority (Jude 1:6). Did Satan think, I deserve more, respect, more power and authority? Did he dare compare himself to God? And he would dupe us with his own evil discontent.

Entitlement is a big gun in Satan’s arsenal. But he doesn’t always need to pack it. The lust of the eyes and the pride of life tempt me that way. I think I deserve good sleep and good kids, good friends and good health, human praise and husband’s love, in my love language. My ear craves words in this language: deserve thanks and deserve to stay home and deserve to be heard. All stem from my entitled heart.

I didn’t have to plumb deep to see it seep; there-under my grumbling, impatience and envy. Nourishing other sin-weeds. Jon Bloom posted a probing piece last fall. Lay Aside the Weight of Irritability is also about I deserve and it’s my right.

Our irritability never has its roots in the soils of righteousness. It springs out of the soil of selfishness and springs up fast, like the sin-weed that it is. We get irritated or easily provoked, not when God’s righteousness or justice is scorned, but when something we want is being denied, delayed, or disrupted. It works like this:

  • When I’m weary I want rest, but if it’s denied/delayed/disrupted I get irritated.
  • When I’m sick or in pain I want relief, but if it’s denied/delayed/disruptedI get irritated.
  • When I’m preoccupied I want uninterrupted focus, but if it’s denied/delayed/disrupted I get irritated.
  • When I’m running late I want to avoid appearing negligent, but if it’s denied/delayed/disrupted I get irritated.
  • When I’m disappointed I want my desire fulfilled, but if it’s denied/delayed/disrupted I get irritated.

Entitlement breeds irritation. And impatience and anger and envy and adultery and all manner of sins. It’s a gateway drug. High on it, we’re blind to God’s goodness. We blend into the crooked culture rather than shine, doing everything without grumbling or complaining. We fall short of his glory.

We’re kids at the beach all day, who get two scoops on the way home, and cry for more. They neither gave thanks. My right and I deserve undermine gratitude. Entitled drives out In everything give thanks and This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Deserve and by grace cannot coexist in our hearts. Entitlement or gratitude; one will drive out the other. 

I deserved the raise, that praise. But, What do you have that you did not receiveWe cannot have two masters. Jesus isn’t looking for 60-40 split. We can’t serve self with my rights and I deserve and Christ with from him and through him and to him are all things. To Him be glory forever. 

We cannot and that’s why I took the dare, and why I challenge you.  Extremis malis extrama remedia.

Ella Spees was a missionary to Africa’s poor for 52 years, in weather so hot she had to drag in the thermometer so it wouldn’t self-destruct at 120°. She set a sky-high standard with her “5 Holy Habits for Contentment.” Practice them to clear holy ground.  Gratitude will grow.

1. Never allow yourself to complain about anything-even the weather.
2. Never picture yourself in any other circumstance or someplace else.
3. Never compare your lot with another’s.
4. Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise. 
5. Never dwell on tomorrow – remember that tomorrow is God’s, not ours.

Ellas’ five are not for the faint-hearted. But is any discipline pleasant at the moment? It’s afterwards, once we’ve been trained, that it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Strengthen the weak hands and feeble knees. Take captive that thought; rein in the runaway tongue. Take the dare, ye faint of heart. Be challenged, thou grumbler. Beat my 44 minute mark.

Gird up undaunted; in Christ, we don’t go it alone. He holds our hand. We struggle with all his energy that powerfully works within. How we need to rely on he who is in us! On the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.

There is One to whom we dare not speak our native tongue. To Him, we say, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof, only say the word, and We are unworthy servants and have only done our duty. And always, Thank you, Lord. 

How am I doing since Friday’s fall?  So glad you asked.

Better than I deserve. 

Much better.

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him. 

Psalm 103:10-11