When we want to find the actual words that Jesus spoke, we turn to the gospels which are the largest collection of the Lord’s sayings. We may also turn to the book of Revelation, where the Lord spoke to John and is quoted in this marvelous vision given to the seven churches of Asia. Apart from these two sources, there is only one other place in the New Testament where the Lord’s actual words are found. In Acts 20:35, as Paul spoke to the elders of the church in Ephesus, he said, “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
The fact that Paul quoted this statement assures us that it is an actual statement from the Lord, and that it is worthy of our attention as His followers. In the context of Acts 20, Paul was giving instructions to the elders of the Ephesian church. He reminded them of the personal sacrifices he had made in providing for his own support in order to help the church. His point was that Christians in general and spiritual leaders in particular must be giving persons.
The nature of that giving, as demonstrated in his own life, involved what Winston Churchill would later say of his appointment as Prime Minister of England in 1940: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” The great apostle literally gave all of these things in service to the Lord and His church during the course of his ministry. The recounting of some of the things he suffered early in his ministry, in 2 Cor. 11:23-28, and what we know he suffered thereafter, clearly show that he gave much. At the end of his life, Paul was confident that he would receive the crown of righteousness because of his faithfulness to the Lord (2 Tim. 4:7, 8). This confidence certainly affirms the validity of the Lord’s words.
Unfortunately, it generally takes us a long time to learn this truth. We are instinctively possessive of our time and of our wealth. We often cannot fathom how giving of what we have makes us more blessed than those to whom it is given. This is particularly the case in modern society, where government takes so much from those who produce and gives it to those who do not. But even in the best of circumstances this is a difficult concept for us.
Nevertheless, the scriptures enjoin us to be givers. The reason for this is because of how much our Father in heaven has given us. The gift of His Son as the sacrifice for our sins is a gift that is greater than any we could ever give, even if we possessed the entire wealth of the earth. Having received such a marvelous gift, how can we withhold giving of ourselves and of our wealth in return?
In 2 Cor. 9:7, Paul told the Christians in Corinth to give as they purposed in their hearts, not grudgingly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver. Then he went on to point out that God will enable us to give generously, if we’ll just trust Him (vs. 8-11). Those who learn this lesson will give generously of their time and efforts, and of their money, for the good of the kingdom. Those who give generously will indeed be blessed here on earth as well as in eternity, for there is no greater blessing than to be loved by God because of our faithful obedience to His will. God said in Mal. 3:10, “Test Me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” Amen!