Believing Jesus: Is it really more blessed to give than to receive​?

…”remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Acts 20:35

Do we remember these words? Or, more importantly, do we really believe them? So often, the snares, struggles, and sins we face in our Christian walk are related to unbelief. We have this tendency to disconnect Biblical truths we believe in theory, with how we live functionally. We may have strong convictions about the inerrancy of God’s word and a genuine desire to apply it to our lives, but then temptation strikes and we hear the smooth whispers of the serpent echo in our hearts, Did God really say…

And so begs the question. Do we actually believe it is more blessed to give than to receive? Are we convinced that Jesus was telling the truth, or is our affirmation of His words merely lip service? If we hope to grow in generosity at all, our first step is to address our unbelief. Guilt may help us overcome aspects of greed, and sympathy might compel us to meet others’ needs. But the fastest route to godly repentance and happy obedience is to identify those truths about God that we are disbelieving and cry out, “Lord I believe; help my unbelief!”

As I consider Christ’s words, I am profoundly thankful for how I have repeatedly experienced this principle to be true. He is the most generous giver of all, and His commandments are not burdensome. When Jesus instructs us, it is not only for His glory, it is not only for our neighbors’ good, it is meant to serve our own interests as well. 

1. Giving increases our happiness.
Jesus isn’t some buzzkill who wants to make us holy at the expense of our happiness. He is actually out to accomplish both! As we obey Him and grow in living generously towards others, He blesses this pursuit of holiness with greater happiness! That might not sound very spiritual, but it’s true. Even the secular world has discovered the connection between giving and happiness (go ahead, do a quick Google search). How much more can Christians, who have access to the perfectly trustworthy source of Scripture, trust that joy will follow generosity?

2. Giving increases our gratitude.
Have you ever noticed that when you are consumed with receiving (whether that be receiving a raise, new possessions, memorable experiences, or financial stability), the more you tend to notice what you don’t have, what you wish you had, and that person who has it better? But when we give, it’s almost as if God shines a spotlight on all those things we’ve been taking for granted, and suddenly we realize how very much we have to be grateful for. This results in us rejoicing in our ability to share with those who have less than us.

3. Giving deepens our love for things that matter. 

Our hearts follow our money, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I don’t know about you, but when my primary focus on spending (or saving) is myself, I grow increasingly preoccupied with shallow desires that cannot satisfy and perceived needs that cannot offer true security. So using money in this way is just like drinking saltwater. The more you do it, the thirstier you are. But when we give generously to God-honoring purposes– to support our churches, provide for the needy, and care for our friends and family– we grow a deeper love for those things as well. The pull of frivolous pursuits and distracting diversions are less enticing, because we’d rather give to people and purposes that actually matter. Savings accounts become less of an idol, because while financial stability is a blessing, the hope it offers is elusive and temporary and we’d rather invest in matters of eternal value.

This is why we can be excited to give! Living generously blesses us! And living generously is something anyone can do, because generosity is not based on a number. Jesus is not an elitist, offering a blessing that can only be seized by the rich. When a wealthy business owner donates thousands of dollars to a charity, or a single mom making minimum wage provides dinner for a homeless man, or a homeless man shares his food with a friend, all of them have practiced generosity. Jesus invites us all to enjoy the blessing of giving.

*If you’re feeling excited to give, here are some organizations I’d wholeheartedly recommend supporting:

Covenant Mercies: serving orphans in Zambia, Ethiopia, and Uganda

Ratanak International: preventing exploitation, protecting the vulnerable, and restoring trafficking survivors in Cambodia

World Relief: serving refugees living in the Middle East and the United States

Women of Hope International: working to bring wholistic transformation to women affected by disability in Sierra Leone

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