Have you heard about the 90-year-old lady who decided buying Christmas gifts was a bit too stressful?
However, she wanted to give her family and friends something. So she decided to write out a check for everyone and include it in her Christmas card. With a personal note wishing each a “Merry Christmas” she added, “Buy your own Christmas present this year.” Signed her name. And sent them off.
A few days after Christmas, she was sitting at her desk paying some bills. And to her shock there were all the Christmas checks! Everyone had received a card from her saying “Buy your own present this year,” but without the checks!
Well, I hope both your giving and receiving goes a little better than that!
We all like gifts. As children, we eagerly looked forward to those special days, like birthdays or Christmas, when we would get an exciting gift. Something we had been hoping and hinting for!
Hopefully, as we grow older, we realize a greater joy in giving instead of receiving. While this reference may not be familiar, there is a well-known quote from Christ that Paul shared in Acts 20:35:
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
This has been called “the ninth beatitude” by some commentators. Earl V. Pierce wrote that this “the supreme beatitude,” because, unlike those in Matthew 5, it tells us how “to be more blessed!”
Although this beatitude is often applied to our weekly offering at church, a charitable contribution, or a gift to a friend, the context speaks of a different kind of giving. These are Paul’s final words to the Ephesian elders.
“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” (Acts 20:32-35)
Giving for this great apostle was much more than a Sunday offering. Giving involved work to support his ministry. Giving meant hardship as he traveled to difficult places to preach. Giving required personal sacrifice of his preferences and opinions. Giving demanded preaching the gospel when it wasn’t popular. Giving resulted in imprisonment, beating, stoning, shipwreck and abandonment by his friends.
Consider three ways in which we can give to others.
(1) Time. The gift of our time is one of the wonderful ways in which we can bless others. Time taken to talk to a child. To visit a shut in. To call a friend. To write a thank you note. To listen to the concerns of your son or daughter. To give your spouse your undivided attention. Our time is more than a gift, it is an investment in the lives of others.
(2) Talents. We each have our own special abilities. What are you good at? What can you do that will bless another person? What skill do you possess that can aid a friend, fellow-Christian, or acquaintance? Cooking? Decorating? Organizing? Music? Art? Child-care? Counseling? Carpentry? Computer skills? Financial advice? Teaching? Training? The list is endless and it is unique with you!
(3) Treasure. There is always a need for financial gifts. Unfortunately, many think the gift must be large. Not so. Biblically we are taught to give according to our ability. It may be a lot. Or little. The amount doesn’t matter. But the heart behind the gift does! As James Russell Lowell once wrote, “The gift without the giver is bare.” As God has blessed us financially, let us share with our churches, charities, colleges, and those in need of monetary help.
Giving honors God’s command, demonstrates His heart, and shows confidence in His future provision. Giving also provides a personal sense of satisfaction and fulfillment like nothing else can do.
Winston Churchill was right when he said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman