35I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)
"It is more blessed to give than to receive." Try and convince a 6 year old of that on Christmas morning. Tell your child that on his or her birthday they will have the privilege of giving everyone at their party a present rather than receiving one themself.
Better yet, see if you can persuade your spouse or romantic interest that you are going to allow them to give you a gift so they can receive the blessings and joy that comes from giving, and that you will suffer the loss and anguish of not having that same pleasure.
And if it works, remember that it was my idea, so be sure to email me and tell me how you did it so I can use it too.
Now for the serious side of this study.
It is quite obvious that not everybody agrees with this "philosophy." If they did, the prisons wouldn't be full to overflowing as they are.
But how can we expect any more from us mere mortals? After all, the very first human beings on this planet set the tradition, and all who they propagated have continued that tradition. (Which is one more piece of evidence that tradition is not necessarily such a good thing.) Eve, having discovered the beauty and appeal of an apple, wanted to share the experience with the one closest to her; so she gave to Adam, and Adam received it - to all of humanity's doom.
Of course it was neither the giving of the forbidden fruit, nor the receiving of it that was the real problem. It was disobedience that caused them to be ousted from their haven.
Those of us who have not also disobeyed can cast the first stone. It's easy to blame them for our problems. If it hadn't been for Adam and Eve's bad behavior, we wouldn't have to suffer thorns, thistles and ultimate death.
But, then again, who of us can say that if it had been them dealing with Satan, that they wouldn't have done the same? I would like to meet that person, because it would mean that they have no desire for carnal knowledge or to be like God. It would also mean that they are not selfish, which means they would be willing and happy to give me all they have. So I hope, if it is you that is the perfect one, that you are very wealthy.
Which brings me back to the subject of giving and receiving.
And when we are not adding to this list, we are trying to figure out who we can convince that we desperately need a mink stole or a Mercedes-Benz.
Santa Baby, where art thou?
And short of a Santa Clause who will fill our stocking with something other than coal, we appeal to the "Santa Clause" of the Bible:
Oh yes. Everybody knows that God just loves to give His children everything their little heart desires. And don't we know that all His children have little hearts and big desires?
And the more you want, the more you can get, the more He gives you. After all, didn't Jesus say that he who has will receive more, and those who don't have will lose what they have? Wasn't He talking about money and possessions? God just loves for you to have everything you want because it makes Him look good, it boosts His Ego, it provides His children with that much more with which to bless the poor, doesn't it? Notwithstanding the fact that the poor never see any of what you receive because you are too busy trying to get more with which to give to the poor.
And there are a whole bunch of churches out there who will help you in your endeavor to acquire wealth. And to prove that they know of which they speak, they have several huge bank accounts from which to draw. Hmmm. I wonder where all that money came from? Silver dollars from Heaven no doubt.
And just look at all the great examples of God showering His own with abundant wealth and blessings.
Take Abraham for example. Now there is a man who left a fabulous city on God's request in order to gain a great land and a mighty nation. And for a hundred years he wandered through a land where he was a stranger, herding sheep, and dodging enemies. But just look at all he got from it; he got.... Um, no, he died without anything but his sheep, didn't he?
Well, how about Isaac, he.... Well, there's Jacob, he got.... No, he died in Egypt and had to have his bones carried to the land he was promised.
But let's not forget Moses. He got.... No, he wandered in the wilderness for 80 years as a loyal friend of God, and ended up dying as he peeked over a river at the land he sought.
But let's not forget the children of Israel. They suffered in Egypt as slaves, and followed very strict rules, so strict that just picking up sticks on the wrong day, or back-talking your parents would get you stoned to death. And what did they do all that for? Why for a land of milk and honey. And weren't they happy to.... No, they all died out there in the desert never even getting to see the land they left Egypt for. And for two thousand years they had been scattered amongst many nations of the world where they were abused and dishonored and killed.
But, wait a minute, that was the Old Testament. That was the God of anger, a demanding God of an ancient people. Times are different now. None of those people were Christians, nor did they attend your church of the TV Gospel. We can't look back at promises that were made to a bunch of people thousands of years ago. We have our own promises from God, the God of Peace and Love, of Plenty, and of Mansions in the Sky. The Owner of cattle on a thousand hills that he wants to give away to anybody who has gumption enough to demand it of Him.
So let's look at some New Testament Saints to see what we can expect.
Well, of course, there is our Leader, the One who has set the example of how we are to behave and what we can expect from this life as one of His followers. So let's look at Jesus.
Let's see now, Jesus was highly respected and appreciated by all, honored for all the many blessings He bestowed on His people, and....
No, that's not right. He was cast down, insulted, spit upon and killed.
Wait a minute! We can't use Him for an example, although He did say that everyone who follows Him will be treated the same way, and killed, and is to give up everything they have rather than expect to receive anything but "daily bread" and clothing.
Now the ones we really should be looking at are the Apostles. They are the ones who would know how we are to live. Not only that, but they told us what to expect and how to get what we want.
Ummmm. No, by reading what they all say, it appears that they tell us the same thing Jesus did, which is not what we want to hear.
Ok. Let's forget what anybody said. After all, it's how a person lives that really tells the story, isn't it? Now we're getting somewhere. Just look at the wealth and fancy mansion that Paul.... No, if he ever had any of that, he gave it up to preach the Word.
But there's Peter, he.... ah.... No, he gave up a fishing business to live on the road, as did all the other Apostles.
But they were all highly respected by all and lived....
No, they were all treated the same way Jesus was, and died the same way as well.
Well, we can't consider them. After all, they were extreme examples, weren't they? I mean, they were fanatics; they weren't just common folk like you and me. They had a mission to fulfill in which to get us the Gospel and the wealth which God wants to bestow upon us precious Americans. So let's ignore all the Apostles and go to the early Christians, shall we?
Just look at them. What blessed people they were! They had.... They had..... Let's see now. They were eaten by lions and tigers, burnt at the stake....
Ok. Ok. So we can't look back at such primitive people. After all, they weren't even smart enough to figure out how to publish the Bible with which to learn what God was really trying to tell them. So let's move ahead a few hundred years to the age of the Printed Word. Now here we have such great people as Luther, and Wesley, and Calvin and.... Let's see, we call them "Martyrs," don't we? Hmmmm.
Well, that was then, and now is now. Things are different now. We live in an age of space ships, and computers, and TV, and CBS and TBN. This is the age which God plans to shower with His blessings. All the rest of Creation and the Ages which have gone on before were just a prelude to this, the End-Time people. This is His chosen period with which He wishes to bestow His Promises. After all, Christians today are treated with respect. No one is harassed or troubled because of their belief in this day and age. Why, just look around the world. Take China, and India, and Africa, and the Middle-East, and, and...., and.
Well, ok. So things aren't looking so good for Christians in those countries. But you have to remember that those are heathen countries, and primitive by our standards.
So let's stick with the good ol' U.S of A. After all, we all know that this is God's Country. This is the New Israel that God had intended all along to bless as His own special people, and to take to His Kingdom in the sky.
And rightly so, because we of this Nation are a loyal bunch. We are a highly moral society. We are dedicated to the Lord and His Word. We are a God Fearing, ...a Nation of High Stand .... Standards .....
Come to think of it; why would God choose this Nation? In fact, God had the Nation of Israel completely wipe out a nation of people just like ours. Canaan worshiped other gods. Do we? I suppose we do, many of them. Even ourselves as gods in the form of Humanism.
They sacrificed their firstborn to the gods. Well, we don't do that; we're not that primitive! Of course not. Why, with our technology we kill them before they're born in sacrifice to the goddess of Sex.
And they had Temples of Prostitution. Now that we don't have. We don't have temples with pictures of sex-mad people painted all over the walls. Of course not. We plaster our pictures of sex-mad people on magazines in stores, and in libraries, and on TV, and on the computer. It's absurd to think we sophisticated people would go out of our homes to see such places as that.
The Canaanites had Temples of Homosexuality. Did you ever hear of such a thing? It's a good thing we don't have such a thing in this country. Especially in our Temples of Worship.
The Canaanites used mind-altering drugs. Aren't you glad that we are above such things?
I sure am glad that I am an American, and not a Canaanite. I would hate to even think of what might happen to this Nation if we were like the Canaanites, instead of the wonderful country upon which God has chosen to shower His blessings.
Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than receive. Is that true? Do you feel more blessed when you give than when you receive? If so, then why don't we give more, and try to receive less?
Jesus apparently believed what He said, because He gave up, not only a great life on this earth (can you imagine how rich and famous He could have been had He become a Doctor or an Exorcist?). But he took on a terrible death so that we, ungrateful wretches we are, might possess everlasting life and bliss.
And the Apostles must have believed Jesus' statement, because they, especially Paul, sacrificed their honor, life, and livelihood in order that we might learn what we must do to obtain Eternal Life that Jesus has offered us.
And the Martyrs must have believed it because they also gave up their life so that the Word may be released to us in a pure form, rather than become bottled up in doctrines and unknown languages.
And there must be a few today who believe what Jesus said, other than those who study the Word because they wish to become ministers, or those who study even harder who wish to dispute and tear down every Word that God has written.
The Mega-churches of today that have more wealth than many countries say there is. They say that if you give them all your money, that you will be blessed. Maybe that is what Jesus meant when He said to give all your money to the rich.
No, I think He said that the rich should give to the poor. Perhaps I misunderstood, for surely such big-name preachers with thousand upon thousand of followers and givers cannot be wrong?
But I am a poor man, and so they wouldn't want me in their church anyway. And if I were able to sneak in to their church, they would shove me under their footstool anyway and I wouldn't get to see all the pleasure the followers were receiving from giving the church their weekly wages.
Oh well. Poor mistreated me.
Let's say I had an old, but in good shape tire out back. (Now I'm just-saying, because I have no old tire, nor an out-back for it to be in. Gotta' keep me honest here.) And I have a neighbor who has a car with one blown-out tire. Is there any way that I could help that neighbor, do you think?
Now let's add to this picture a cast on my neighbor's leg. Do you have any thoughts as to how I might possibly add to how I might helping this neighbor?
Oh, Great! Now you've gone and done it! I did what you suggested - I gave the neighbor my old tire, and I even put it on for him. Now I'm sweaty, my good suit is muddy and there's grease smeared on my good tie, and I'm late for work. And it's all your fault because you were the one who suggested all this in the first place. Now me, I'd of never done such a thing. I'd have given him the tire, then told him to call a wrecker to fix that old heap of his.
Ok, wise guy, so tell me; how am I blessed?
Let's look at a few options:
Option 1. The neighbor didn't even bother to look out the window to watch me perform my good deed. So I not only get no thanks for my good deed, but I don't even get acknowledged. So now I am not only out an old tire, but out a good suit as well. Consequences - I'm mad. No blessing.
Option 2 - My neighbor comes out of the house waving his crutch at me because I'm kneeling in his flower bed of prize petunias. Consequences - madder still.
Option 3 - My neighbor comes out, crosses his arms over his chest and tells me that it's about time I brought back the tire he loaned me ten years ago, and adds that I should have also returned the car he lent me that belonged to the tire. Consequences - I'm embarrassed and apologetic. The blessing I received? I'm thankful that he didn't yell at me for destroying his prized petunias, and that he hadn't noticed that the tire I put on his car had a big hole in it, and the tire I took off was not the flat one.
Option 4- My neighbor limps out with a soda for me and thanks me warmly for being such a good neighbor and invites me to dinner. Consequences - I'm glad I did the favor for my neighbor, and even decided not to send him the bill for having my suit cleaned. Blessing -- I feel good about my self, and about my neighbor who I always despised as a cranky old coot ever since he yelled at me for killing his apple tree by cutting off the limb that hung over my fence.
Option 5 - My neighbor limps out in tears and shakes my hand. He tells me that he was at wits end not knowing what to do. He tells me that his wife is deathly ill and he has to get her to a doctor immediately, but they can't afford an ambulance or a taxi, and that he had been praying for help. He tells me that I am the answer to their prayers. Consequences - I choke back my tears and offer to drive them to the hospital in my own car. I wait with my neighbor, comforting him while his wife is being treated, and I pay the bill. Then I take them to lunch, after which I drive them to a grocery store where I purchase two shopping carts full of food for them. Finally, I drive them home and heartily ask them if there is anything else they need; saying that if there is anything they ever need, just let me know. When they thank me, I tell them that they did me a favor by letting me be of assistance. And, incidently, I don't even mention that I lost an entire day's wages for having missed work. Consequences - I have gained a neighbor instead of the old crank next door that chopped down my cherry tree in retaliation for my having destroyed his apple tree. Blessing - I feel great about myself for having done the right thing, and I have released the anger I had been holding all these years toward my neighbor. My wife has seen the big change in me and has decided to move her and the kids back home, instead of suing for a divorce as she had already scheduled. My boss has noticed the change in me and has given me a promotion instead of firing me as he had always threatened.
Fiction you say? Life doesn't work like that?
Perhaps not - for you. But for many it does. The key is being willing to endure a hundred of the first situations (Jesus said "seventy times seven") before experiencing one of the last. But just one of the last situations is worth enduring a thousand of the first.
And someone who can endure to the last, can from that point on smile through all of the first thereafter knowing that they are the type of person what will endure to the last.
The object lesson of this study is not the good feelings we receive from doing the right things; though such is an important aspect of giving. No, the lesson is that our joy in giving is derived from two primary sources which are;
Fulfilling a need that exists;
The amount of appreciation that is returned.
Giving to the rich fulfils neither of these. And when we give to the rich, or to those who say they are going to return with interest, is not giving, but investing; and should not be confused with earning blessings.
Giving to the thankful, but not needy may give you a feeling of satisfaction; but it does not earn you credits in Heaven.
Giving to the needy and thankful will give you both a good feeling, and recognition in Heaven; Heaven because you gave to the needy not knowing that you would receive the blessing of appreciation as well.
Giving to the needy and un-appreciative, with the right heart which gives in spite of appreciation gets you credit in Heaven, as well as blessings to yourself if you have a heart that gives and gives though you are insulted and spit upon. (Does that remind you of anyone?)
Consider how you feel when you give to a thankful and appreciative child.
Consider how you feel when you give to a un thankful and un appreciative child.
After you have those pictures well established in your mind; consider that we are created in God's image, and that He feels the same as we do about giving.
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