THIS WEEK’S FOCUSED SCRIPTURE
“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.’” Acts 20:35 (NIV)
THOUGHTS FROM JACQUE
Before we get to the Focused Scripture, I want to share a few thoughts about this week’s reading passages. I found myself really intrigued with Paul’s travels and the responses from the people, primarily the Jews, in a few of the cities he visited. Did they respond the way they did to Paul because, before he became a Christian, he actually persecuted them, and now he is coming back and disrupting them yet again, but with a different motive? One that challenged the law and their doctrine? One of repentance and having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? Maybe?
Here’s another interesting thought in these passages. Paul had purposed in his heart to go to Jerusalem in spite of at least four prophets who warned him not to go. The prophets even foretold of the consequences he would face, yet it didn’t sway him to change what he felt the Spirit compelled him to do. Was Paul, just maybe, so determined to go to Jerusalem and share the truth to make up for the persecution that he had brought to the Christians earlier? There are lots of thoughts on this part of the passages about why he went in spite of the prophets compelling him not to. We really don’t know exactly why because it never says, but I still wonder.
Let’s get to the Focused Scripture that I’ve chosen for this week. Paul is leaving the elders of the Ephesus church. This will be the last time that they will see him. He wants to remind them that as they continue in the work of the Lord, to remember the words that Jesus Himself said in Acts 20:35. I wonder why Paul felt impressed to remind them about giving and receiving. So, I’ll ask the same question — why is it more blessed to give than to receive? Let me throw out some thoughts for you to think about, and I pray the Holy Spirit illuminates for you the importance of making giving the focus, and less about the receiving. Just let God add all things unto you.
First, when we give something, be it time, finances, a gift of some type, whatever the “giving” is, it requires that we make a sacrifice. I remember one time when someone wanted to borrow some tools. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but they were my husband’s tools, so I wanted to get his blessing. I asked him about this person borrowing a few tools, and I was surprised at the response I got. Let’s just say he wasn’t as excited to let go of those tools for someone to borrow like I was. Not that my husband isn’t a giver, but my point is that his tools are something he puts a high value or price on, and to just let them go is a huge sacrifice. I think we all have “something” that we would be hesitant to give because it would be a great sacrifice.
But when we talk about sacrifice, who made the ultimate sacrifice? Our Heavenly Father. I would think He gave it some thought before He said, “Here ya go; here’s My only Son,” KNOWING we wouldn’t value Him like He did. What a great sacrifice, wouldn’t you agree? A great sacrifice with an incredible reward.
Which leads me to my second thought. As we GIVE without compulsion or reluctance, the fulfillment within our soul is such an incredible reward that nothing else on this earth can compare. It’s like, as we give, the by-product happens — we “receive.” God reminds us to do our part, and He does His. He adds to our lives what we need as we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness.
And now for my last thought. I believe that God wants our hearts to be focused on giving to keep selfishness out. We are already born into this world being selfish. We don’t have to work hard at, “I want, I need, what about me, what about me, what about me?!” But to give sacrificially and not even think about what’s in it for you is victory and freedom.
I encourage you to go deeper by purposefully doing acts of giving this week. The more you do it, the more you won’t even have to think about it. It will just happen! You take on the character of God. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 NASB
Have a super faith-filled week!!!