Article: Giving or Receiving: Which is a Blessing? | Jacob Varghese
Once I heard of an incident, in a city there was a rich man who was walking on the street. As he was walking, he observed a little boy who was watching through the glass window into a bakery and the yummy and mouthwatering eatables inside. Even for us it is quite tempting to see all those cakes, pastries and the smell of the bakery. It smells so good, right? This little boy was staring at those bakery items but he was a poor little boy and he could not afford to buy any of those. So he was watching hoping that he will be able to eat at least one of them. Just then the rich man noticed this little boy, he walked to the little boy and asked him, little one would you like to have some of those cakes? And the little boy said, yes sir. So the rich man went and bought some cakes and then he gave to the little boy and I am sure the little boy smiled with happiness when he got those cakes. When you see that happiness on someone that gives us a lot of joy, is n’t it? When you make someone smile that gives you a lot of joy and satisfaction. As the rich man walked back, the little boy ran after him, called him and said Sir, are you God? I have never seen God but I know God answers prayers. I had this desire to eat some of those cakes and you fulfilled my heart’s desire. What I want to tell through this illustration is when you give, you look like God.
Acts 20:35 tells “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive”. In this text the writer of Acts informs us of Paul’s farewell address to the leaders of the church at Ephesus. There was a good chance that he would no longer see any of them face to face and he wanted to leave this significant message to them about the importance of giving.Most scholars believe that it is one of the two things, possibly Paul was quoting one of the disciples who heard Jesus say that Himself or others believe may be Paul put together some texts that Jesus said.All through the Bible, there are a lot of verses about giving.The principles and practice of giving are taught in the Bible and when obeyed, will bring blessings to both givers and recipients. But the greater blessings fall on the giver than on the recipient because “it is more blessed to give than to receive” Giving is the offering of something to God or others, or to both. It is making one’s time as well as one’s possessions available for the services of God and others, and this is the essence of true living. It is said that one can give without loving but one cannot love without giving.Some people give but they do not give with the right attitude. Paul believed in his heart that Jesus felt that it was more blessed to give than to receive. Why is that? Giving is a spiritual matter. Whenever you give, whenever you let go, it is a spiritual thing but the natural says it is all about me, I want to keep, I want to receive, give me, give me and give me but the spiritual says I have got to release and I want it to let it go and so he says it is more blessed to give than to receive. I believe brothers and sisters that when we understand why it is more blessed to give than to receive,it will change our outlook on giving, it will change us, change our life. It is not about money. Money is a part of our giving but it is not just giving of your treasure but it is giving of your time, energy, talents and so on.
So many times in life we want to receive, right? Suppose if it is our birthday we wait for gifts. I know when it is our daughter’s birthdays, they will ask us early on, what am I going to get? Or before their examination results, children come to us as parents and ask what are you going to give me if I get a certain percentage of marks or above, they will ask not only to us may be to their grandparents, uncles & aunts and so on. For us life is all about receiving. What do I get that is a concern we all have and usually human life is filled with lot of selfishness. So even before we do anything or everything we have this question, what will I get if I do this or that? What benefit am I going to receive if I do this? But the Bible says in Acts chapter20:35 it is more blessed to give than to receive. For us receiving is the blessing but Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. So when I talk about giving, it is not just about helping in monetary terms instead when I say give, it means you are giving your time, your energy, giving some encouragement, giving away some love or giving some gifts or compliments. So it is not all about money but it also includes money. In the gospel of Luke chapter 6:38 onwards we see, “give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Jesus said give and it will be given to you. You want to receive something in your life, then Jesus said give first and then it will be given to you. How should we give? Should we give less, should we give little or should we give more? What is the measure we must use when we give? This also Jesus explained beautifully-a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over. The Bible says when you give; this is the way you must give. That means give as much as you can give. This is not about receiving. The same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. If you give little, how much are you going to receive? Only little! If you give more, how much are you going to receive? More, isn’t it? When you do little good to others, that much is what you are going to receive back. When you show lot of kindness to others, the kindness that you receive back is definitely going to multiply several times. Jesus said give and it will be given to you. So whom should we give? First give to God, then to God’s people and then to everybody else. First and foremost thing is to give to God. It is all about giving and when you give you are blessed.
I want to take your attention to few examples from the word of God about people who gave. Usually when it comes to giving we always think that rich people can give more. Have you ever had that thought, ever felt that way. I can say no, that is not true. In my ministry experience over the last many years, what I have seen is people who have very little, have a very big heart and people who have a lot, many times have very small hearts. In order for you to give you do not need to be rich; you do not need to have a lot. All you need is a heart to give. There is a classic example in the Bible about a poor widow. In Luke chapter 21:vs. 2 to 4 we see, Jesus also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. Jesus said “Truly I tell you,” “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Here Jesus spoke about this poor widow. Probably Jesus was there near to the offering box. And He was observing what people were giving. He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. Jesus not only observed the quantity they were giving, Jesus also observed their heart. He was also watching their intentions and their motives. Some people give a little but they give a lot of publicity, some people give a lot but they don’t really like to show off. Different people different attitude. But Jesus appreciated the poor widow here. When I say a poor widow, here we have two words to notice. First she is poor and number two she is a widow. When we say that she is poor, she did not have much. And she is a widow that means she does not have a husband to support her. So whatever she has, she needs to keep for her future so that she can live on it for the rest of her life. Bible does not talk about whether she has children or not, if she had, whether they are grown up or not, whether they are working or not, whether they are able to support her financially or not. Bible does not talk about all those things. So this poor widow definitely had some excuses to make. So many times when we don’t want to give, we try to find some excuses. Do you agree or not? This poor widow also had several reasons not to give to the Lord but she gave. Though she gave very little compared to all the other rich people who gave offerings on that day, Jesus commended her giving. Jesus noticed her giving. Jesus also took time to appreciate her giving. This poor widow, the Bible says she has given two very small copper coins, which is like nothing, almost like an insignificant amount. But because she is a poor widow, that is what she had and that is all what was left with her. When she came to the offering box she might have thought, God I am giving you everything I have and Jesus said in Luke 21:4, “Truly I tell you,” “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. Let me tell you something whatever you give to God, it will come back to you. God is going to give the interest also. Whatever you give to God, God will multiply it so many times and give it back to you. Give to God because you love, because He has done so much for you and remember, when it is the right time He will give you back everything you have given to Him because God has so much. Don’t just give only to receive. Do we actually need to give God? If you don’t give to God, do you think the church doesn’t meet its needs, or church cannot pay the expense bills? If we do not give to God, God is not going to fall short of anything. There is no shortage with God. His works will happen in any way. He will provide for His house, for His servants. But if you don’t give to God, you are the looser. God is not going to lose anything. He can provide for His mission anyway. But God is looking at your heart. We need to be faithful givers.
At our home we have a practice, when we get our salaries, the first thing we do is to take out the tithe put it in an envelope and then the very next Sunday we put it in the offering bag. We taught this very thing to our children also. Our first daughter started working; and we are happy to see her always set apart more than her tithes for God’s work. More than that, we always wait for an opportunity to give to God and God’s work. Do you have a heart to give? This is the most important question I want to ask. Do you have a heart to give or are you trying to be selfish, trying to withhold everything that you have? I am not telling you not to have savings. Let me tell you something when it comes to giving; remember it is more blessed to give than to receive. So this poor widow gave everything she had to the Lord. She put everything in the offering box. Or in other words she simply put her faith and trust in God. She believed that God will provide for her somehow; so she gives, whatever she had.
I want to give you another example from the Old Testament. Let us turn to1 Kings 17:8-15, which tells us about a widow in Zarephath who had a big challenge right in front of her. There was a famine in that place, no food to eat at all and the man of God Elijah comes walking to her and in such a condition he asked her-would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” What did she say? She replied as surely as the Lord your God lives, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” We want to eat and then die out of hunger. So what did Elijah say to her? Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.Here she is left with another challenge, life and death situation. Now knowingly she is not at all willing to give that first piece of bread to this man of God because she has already planned to prepare one last meal for her and her son to eat and then die. This was definitely a challenge, definitely a test of faith and a test of obedience. Usually what we think is when we give it is going to reduce from whatever we have. Isn’t it? That is exactly what this woman was feeling. But in spite of her shortage, in spite of her condition, she obeyed to the man of God. What did she do? She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. Halleluiah! Yes, when you give to God, He will definitely reward you. This woman, the widow of Zarephath, she gave the first piece of bread to the man of God. She might have told herself, even though I don’t have much to eat, even though I have my son to feed and take care of, she honored his word, because he is a man of God. Usually in life we are tempted to use whatever the little we have for ourselves but when we use the same for God and God’s people we are going to receive more. God teaches us to give to God and to God’s people. Whenever you get an inspiration in your heart, whenever God talks to us, do not hold back. If you hold back, God will also hold back His blessings. When God says or inspires you to release to do something just do it, don’t even think, God is going to provide for your needs. If you are willing to give, God is more than willing to bless you.
I want to show you another example from the Bible, let us read 2Kings Chapter 4: 8 to 10. One day Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat. She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let us make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.”This is from the life of Elisha. Here is a rich woman; we spoke about a poor woman earlier. Let me tell you something, it does not matter whether you are rich or poor, whether you have a lot or a little. All that matters is your heart. If you have a heart to give, whether you have a lot or not, does not matter. If you do not have a heart to give even if you have a lot, it does not mean anything. You will not give even a little. It is a reality. Yes, you need to have that big faith and a heart to give. In our story this woman is a noble woman, the Bible says she is a notable woman, a well-to-do woman, a rich woman; she spoke to her husband and said let us prepare, let us make some facility for this man of God Elisha. Every time Elisha comes to our town, he needs to stay at our home. That means she had a very hospitable mind, giving hospitality is not very easy. Having a guest over for one day or one time is okay but when someone comes for many days we feel we cannot take care of them. Though hospitality is not very easy but indeed it is a very good godly virtue. This woman wanted to give great hospitality to Elisha, so she prepared a room, bed, table, chair and a lamb stand. Because she invited this man of God into her home she did whatever she could with what God has given her. Let me tell you something God will ask you an account of what you have done for Him with everything He has given you. God has given you good education, good exposure, a loving family and or whatever God has given you, whatever facilities God has given you, one day God is going to ask you, I have given you so much – what have you done with it for me? He will not ask you about what He has given to your neighbor, friend or others. He will ask you about what He has given you- did you make the proper use of everything He has given you? Like the time, the talents, the teachings He has given you. Have you put them in to use? Have you applied them in to your life? He will ask you about how you have taken care of your family? So this woman who was rich did whatever she could do with the riches God has given her to honor the man of God and we know later that this man of God prayed for this woman. She was barren; she did not have any children. I am sure because she was rich, she might have gone to all the best hospitals in her town. She might have tried every possible way but she could not conceive. Finally when the man of God Elisha prayed God gave her a son. So another important aspect is when you start giving to God, when you start investing in other’s lives,it is going to come back to you. Bible says give and it will be given to you. When you believe in God, your faith does not stop at the theory, your faith needs to go on to another level where you put whatever you learned into practice.
I observed from all what I have shared thus far,there are five reasons to justify why it is more blessed to give than to receive. 1. Giving obeys God’s commands. II Corinthians 9:6 says remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.2. Giving allows us to be tools of God’s blessings to others.3. Giving exhibits God’s heart. 1 John 3:16 says this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.4. Giving shows our complete trust and faith in God.5. Giving advances the kingdom of God or it allows God’s kingdom to grow. I want to conclude here by telling you God will reward you when you give to Him. So let us make a decision to receive or give. Do not think about what you can get but think about what you can give? When you see your friend or co-believer or a person in your neighborhood is in need, think and do what you can give to that person. May be that person might need a word of encouragement, just one word that you care about them, may be tell them that you are praying for them, just tell them do not be upset, do not be sad. Giving is not always about giving in monetary terms, giving is even speaking a word of love, word of appreciation, encouragement, just being there for someone, just giving your hearing ear that is also a very big ministry. What you do for God and what you do for others that matters. May the Lord help us to be givers because it is more blessed to give than to receive.