Summary: It’s the 9th beatitude; the Christmas beatitude. We never hear it from Jesus’ lips but from Paul’s pen. What is it? It’s Acts 20:35!
This past week my wife Nicole and I were out finishing some last minute Christmas shopping.
I was driving and she was riding in the passenger seat.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere my wife blurts out, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.”
She said, “I love giving way more than receiving. Don’t you?”
Well, because we were in traffic I was driving slowly, but my mind was now in high gear.
What did she just say? Yes. And who said those words? And is that how I feel too?
All of these questions bombarded me all at once I suddenly realized that I did not really feel the way she felt.
I’m ashamed to admit this to you, but in my mind, I didn’t really agree with her.
Which poses a little bit of a problem because I’m a Pastor and I’m supposed to be the shining example of Godliness and Generosity to my congregation and my community.
And at this moment I was coming to the realization that in fact, I didn’t buy into what my wife had just said.
Which poses another problem. The words my wife had just quoted were not her own, but the words of Jesus.
And I’m supposed to be following Jesus.
And I had done the very thing that the Apostle Paul encouraged a group of 1st century Christian leaders not to do…
I had totally forgotten about these words.
Paul said in Acts 20:35:
“And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.”
As my wife quoted to me the words of Jesus, I began to feel ashamed, convicted.
I was convicted because it dawned on me how far I still have to go in becoming the person God wants me to be.
What my wife had said to me had prompted me to ask myself some personal questions that cut to the heart of a lot of stuff in my life.
I came away from that conversation asking myself two questions:
1. “Do I believe this?”
“Do I really believe that it’s better to give than to receive?”
2. “Am I a giver or am I a taker?”
• In my relationships with others, do I give as much as I receive?
• Am I consumed with what I can get out of this person or am I concentrating on what I can give to this other person?
Well, all of this, of course, has a hightened sense of importance for me because it’s Christmas.
And I don’t want to think that at Christmas, I resemble Scrooge more than I resemble Jesus.
So I began to ask myself, “What do these words of Jesus say to me? And for that matter, what do these words of Jesus say to all of you here this evening?”
Well the first thought I had was, “Well, these words say what they say.”
I don’t want to be guilty of putting words in Jesus mouth, so listen to what Jesus actually said in his own words:
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
What is Jesus saying to us here?
Jesus is first telling us something about God and second he’s telling us something about giving.
The word translated blessed is the word makariov, which means, “to have the favor of God”.
It literally means that God is in favor of it.
God is favors giving over receiving.
It’s like when two football teams send out their captains before the kickoff of each game for the coin toss.
Whoever wins the coin toss gets to choose.
The referee will ask them:
Do you want to kick or receive? Which is like asking, “Do you choose to give the ball away first or to get the ball first?”
God would always be in favor of giving it away first.
Imagine with me for a moment that it’s Christmas Eve at your house.
Santa Claus slides down your chimney and you happen to be waiting up with milk and cookies for him.
Santa turns to you and says, “Kid, the deal has changed this year. You have to make a choice. This year, you can either receive a gift from me or you can give a gift from me to someone else. But you can’t do both. In the past you could do both, but not this year. This year you’ve got to choose. Give a gift or get a gift? ”
Now if you had the choice between either giving or getting, and you had to choose one, which would you choose?
Well, if you and I were to ask God that same question, God would be in favor of giving a giving a gift rather than receiving one.