Everybody likes to receive a gift. There’s nothing wrong with that, but Jesus gave us a greater goal. He taught with His Words and His life that His people must demonstrate not only a willingness to receive and a desire to get, but He requires an eagerness to GIVE. The Christian life should be characterized not by the love of money, but the love of Christ that causes us to give to others in need. Even when we don’t have a lot, if we’re willing to give and help, God sees and blesses us too. Let’s look at an example.
Coveted No Man’s Silver
In Acts 20, Paul addressed the elders of the church of Ephesus for the last time. After encouraging and warning them, He closed with these final words in Acts 20:33-35:
“I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed 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.”
What a testimony! While he served them and laboured in the ministry, he didn’t covet their money or desire their stuff! The word he used for covet (S:1937) is defined as “to set the heart upon, i.e. long for.” His heart was not focused on getting, but giving!
Ministered Unto My Necessities
In the passage, Paul talks about giving spiritually — serving with all humility of mind (Acts 20:19), teaching publicly and from house to house (Acts 20:20), testifying (Acts 20:21), and declaring all the counsel of God (Acts 20:27) — but it’s so awesome that he took it a step further. Paul said his own hands “ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me” (Acts 20:34). What does that mean? In addition to the work of the ministry, Paul worked a day job so that he could provide for himself and those who were with him! Though he could have received, he wanted to give!
In Acts 18, he stayed with Aquila and Priscilla and worked because, like Paul, they were tentmakers (Acts 18:1-3). He worked with his own hands (1 Cor. 4:12), labouring and travailing night and day, so he could give rather than receive, and “make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us” (2 Thess. 3:8-9).
He did what God told the church to do in Ephesians 4:28: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” That’s the way it should be — working, not only for self or for money, but to give to someone that needs.
More Blessed To Give
Though Paul spent time with “no certain dwellingplace” (1 Cor. 4:11), in Acts 28 we find a two year period where Paul had a place, but he had the right mindset. The Bible records, “Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him” (Acts 28:30-31).
There were times he didn’t have a place, and he still served, but when he had a “hired house,” or a rented building, you know what Paul did? He gave, He received, He ministered and we can see throughout his life and ministry, and have confidence in eternity, God honored his continual sacrifices.
This is why, in his final speech to the elders we started off with, he said, “I have shewed 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.” He practiced what he preached and literally laboured, working hard night and day, to support the weak and give to others.