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.” Acts 20:35
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
Today’s Scripture gives to us the final component of the Apostle Paul’s departing words to the church at Ephesus. Later in Acts 20 we are told that Paul is about to set sail to resume his third missionary journey. Paul’s speaks of “working hard” in our passage and it is a reference to what he said just before in Acts 20 about how he managed his ministry among them financially. Paul said, “Night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears …. I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me.”
So, Paul is saying in today’s passage that by “working hard” like he did, they will have the resources to “help the weak.” The weak are those who do not have enough resources to meet their own needs. Paul then quotes the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Do you work hard? Why do you work hard or why do you work at all? Certainly it has to do with having the financial resources for living life here on earth. But this must not be your primary reason for working hard. What kind of connection is there in your life between “working hard” and “helping the weak?” We have been talking about the “goal” of life. The real “goal” of life is advancing the God’s kingdom on earth. “Working hard” to “help the weak” is very much a part of advancing God’s kingdom on earth. The Apostle John said, “Whoever has the word’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him.”
How much of your financial resources goes to helping those who do not have enough resources to meet their own needs? Would you be willing to live in a smaller house, drive older cars, spend less on household accessories, downsize spending on recreation and vacations, give up having the latest and greatest gadgets, etc.? How about volunteering at a hospital, nursing home, hospice agency, soup kitchen, food bank, prison, disaster agency, youth or senior citizen center, etc.? A “giving spirit” can go a long way when we give up “working” and “living” for ourselves.
How does this all fit together. Let’s look at the word “blessed” from Paul’s quote of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Is it referring to “being blessed” or “being a blessing?” Certainly, the one who makes “giving” a priority over receiving will be blessed, but if one’s motivation in giving is to be blessed then making giving the priority hasn’t really happened. Jesus is talking about “being a blessing by giving” and only ones who seek this really have giving as their motivation. So, “being a blessing by giving what we have to offer” to those who are weak because they need what we have to offer, is the most basic springboard of all for achieving the goal of advancing God’s kingdom.
But being a true “blessing” to others means there are no strings attached to our giving. It is born out of genuine love for others. Yes, we want to see people reached with the gospel of grace, we want them to be redeemed, we want them to enter into a relationship with Christ, we want them to be transformed (sanctification) by his indwelling presence, and we want them live for the goal of the advancement of God’s kingdom as well. But, if we treat others as ones to be reached, we will not be a true “blessing” and our love will not be pure. Being a true “blessing” and having pure love for others means that we really want to be in a relationship with them no matter how they respond to us and that we really do care about them and are willing to bless them through giving.
When you truly bless others with the pure love of a “giving spirit,” your relationship with them becomes a bridge across which Christ can come to them. Not everyone that comes your way will be weak in financial resources, but you can give “yourself” to anyone God brings your way. and the goal of advancing your kingdom on earth.
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, help me to die to myself, so that I might become fully alive to you and others. Bring me to the spot where my approach to what “I do for” and what “I have” in regard to “material” things is fair game for you to change. Grant me a genuine “giving spirit” so that I become a true “blessing” to others and really do live “fully” for you and the goal of advancing your kingdom on earth. Amen!
Posted on Sat, May 28, 2016
by Alan Porter