The Words of the Lord Jesus
by James Smith, 1860
The religion of Jesus Christ is essentially benevolent. It always breathes good-will toward men. To dethrone selfishness, and introduce the reign of love — is its object. Christ himself is the great model of benevolence in his life, and the great preacher of benevolence in his ministry. To one of his common sayings, which seems to have become a proverb among the primitive Christians, I wish to direct attention. "Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said: It is more blessed to give — than to receive." Acts 20:35.
The Remarkable Saying."It is more blessed to give — than to receive." Our Lord acted upon this himself, and parted with ALL, for his people. "He was rich — but for our sakes became poor." He urged it upon his disciples, "Freely you have received — freely give." He has preserved it in his book for our instruction and admonition.
It is evidently correct, for receiving implies need, weakness, or unsatisfied desires. The poor need — and to them we should give. The weak cannot labor — to them we should show benevolence. The receiver has unsatisfied desires, or he would not receive.
Giving supposes possession, which we have to part with; and honorable stewardship, which we are entrusted to distribute. It manifests a generous disposition, and a concern for the comfort of others.
It is more blessed to give — for it is more like God, who is the great giver. It is a source of pure pleasure, therefore we often hear of, "the luxury of doing good."
It is even more profitable, for "the liberal soul shall be made fat." "There is one who scatters — and yet increases." Hear God's word, believe it, and put it to the test. "Honor the Lord with your substance, and with the first fruits of all your increase — so shall your barns be filled with plenty, and your presses shall burst out with new wine." "He who has pity upon the poor — lends unto the Lord; and that which he has given — will He pay him again."
These are God's words, and clearly show, that if from love to God and man, in obedience to his precepts, and with a view to his honor — we distribute to his poor and his cause — then we shall find it profitable as well as pleasurable — we shall gain and be happy. We will prove that "it is more blessed to give — than to receive."
The USE we should make of this remarkable saying.Remember it, to make use of it in prayer, asking for great blessings, with great confidence, though poor and unworthy, because God thinks it "more blessed to give — than to receive." We should remember it, to ask for many mercies, as well as great ones; to go to the Lord often, opening the mouth wide that he may fill it. We should remember it, to remind others, urging them to go to the Lord and ask largely and freely.
We should remember it too — to walk by it, being ready to distribute, willing to share. This should be done prudently, according to our means — not giving away what really does not belong to ourselves. It should appear plainly to all — that we really do believe and act upon God's word. And we should continue to act upon it — though discouraged by the ingratitude and unthankfulness, of those about us, doing as unto the Lord, and not to men. "Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said: It is more blessed to give — than to receive."
How few practically believe this text — it is so unearthly, so unselfish, so spiritual, so like Jesus. Sentimentally it is admired — but practically it is despised, or neglected, or disbelieved. Many think that what they give — they lose. Whereas, if given from a right motive — that they really do lay up for themselves as well. How very many think the reverse to be true. They think it is more blessed to receive — than to give. They think it is more blessed to hoard — than to distribute to the poor! They think it is more blessed to spend selfishly in dress, luxury, or pleasure — than to part with for God's cause, or for the spread of the gospel. Giving is anything but blessed in their estimation.
But it was both believed and acted upon — by the poor widow in the gospel, who cast all that she had into the treasury.
It was both believed and acted upon — by the saints at Jerusalem, when no man said that anything he possessed was his own; and when they sold their property, and gave it to the church fund.
It was both believed and acted upon — by the Macedonians, who in a great trial of affliction, and deep poverty, abounded in liberality: "Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints!" 2 Corinthians 8:2-4
It was both believed and acted upon — by Paul himself, who for Christ suffered the loss of all things, and to spare and help others, labored with his hands, while he preached the gospel without charge.
Beloved, the grace of God will prove antagonistic to the selfishness and covetousness of human nature; it will make us kind-hearted, generous and liberal. No covetous person, who is an idolater — can inherit the kingdom of Christ, and of God. We were not born to hoard — but to help others. We are not born again to lay up for ourselves — but to lay out for others. What the Lord gives us — he only entrusts to us, to do good with it, and make his creatures, especially his own people happy with it.
Let us therefore look upon our property as a talent, which we are to employ for God and his church, and whenever tempted to be niggardly or selfish, let us "remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said: It is more blessed to give — than to receive."