By Matt Dawson
Jesus said (Acts 20:35) that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
I remember hearing this as a kid and not only disagreeing with the statement, but I struggled to understand WHY anyone would fall for such nonsense.
You might experience some “good feels” when giving a gift, but the reality is that most of us ENJOY the receiving of gifts just a bit more!
As a follow up to this idea we talked about Sunday, I really want to stress the fundamental difference between a lifestyle of giving versus the transaction of a gift.
When Jesus talked about giving of oneself, he would often use the same greek word used in John 3:16 (For God so loved the world that he GAVE…). Translated best it means “he did not reserve for himself.” The base understanding is that when we give, it’s a sacrifice because we could always just reserve it for ourselves – but instead we GIVE it to someone else.
Paul uses this same word several times in the latter part of Acts 20 as he expressed the “giving of his life” and the “example that He gave” to the church as an imitator of Christ. Giving is simply God’s nature and therefore a life of giving is a life imitating God.
Don’t miss this important distinction about this set of verses. Paul is describing a lifestyle of GIVING that was given to us by Jesus Christ.
TO GIVE is a selfless act of not reserving for oneself.
A GIFT is a transaction based on the value of what is being exchanged.
When we use the statement “It is better to give than to receive” and we are referring to a GIFT, then we only have the value of the gift to dictate our joy. If I give you a sandwich, I might feel good….but it’s just a sandwich. If I give you a car – there would be a significant increase in emotion because the gift is of such a high value.
But the joy of giving a gift wears off quickly. The experience of a gift exchange is short-lived (as we all experience around December 29th).
When we understand the context of this verse in Acts as a LIFE OF GIVING OUR LIVES – we see that the JOY we experience from giving has almost NOTHING to do with the value of a gift. It has EVERYTHING to do with the JOY that God is giving us as we are imitators of HIM!
The more I function and live like Jesus, the more Joy and Satisfaction I experience from Jesus in my life!
We mentioned in this series that Generosity is the Key to joy-filled, fully satisfied life! True JOY is not defined by the value of the gift that you are giving, but by the selfless act of the giver wanting to be more like Jesus.
So this Christmas season, don’t allow that verse (It’s more blessed to give than to receive) to run through your mind as you shop for presents and attribute it to a gift exchange. Allow yourself to start experiencing the JOY that comes from a GENEROUS LIFE and give yourself away to those in your circle of family and friends. Give your time, money, talents, and all that God has blessed you with to those in need around you. I PROMISE, regardless of the outcomes, you will begin to experience that self sustaining, joyful satisfaction that can only come as JESUS blesses your heart of Generosity!