Today’s Reading: Acts 20-22
Today’s Reflection: Acts 20:35
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
As Paul prepared to leave Ephesus and return to Jerusalem, he knew this journey would be unlike his previous journeys.
He knew it would be his last.
The Holy Spirit had already revealed to Paul what awaited him upon his return to Jerusalem: persecution, trial, imprisonment and ultimately a martyr’s death. So Paul gathered with the elders of the church at Ephesus, the place he had stayed for all of his time ministering in Asia, to say a final farewell to them. Paul ended his final address with the words in today’s reflection text, an admonition to give.
Paul reminds the Ephesian elders of all he has given and all that he is willing to give, up to and including his very life. It is God’s desire for each of us to give whatever we have to in order to fulfill His purpose for our lives. There are three things we should each remember in order to be willing to give freely of ourselves:
Give freely because everything you have and are belongs to God. The word tells us clearly that everything in creation was made by God’s hand and belongs to Him. We are merely stewards of the gifts God bestows upon us. So when you give God your everything, you’re not giving Him something that’s yours, you’re serving God with something that’s already His.
Romans 14:7-8 – 7) For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8) For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
Give freely because everything you have and are is meant to bless other people. One of the things we often fail to recognize is that God often works through people to meet the needs of others. One theologian put it this way: sometimes God’s gifts come disguised as people. While it is God who puts us in places where we can give to others, we have to make the decision to use what we’ve been given—time, talent, and treasure—to be a blessing to someone else.
2 Corinthians 8:13-15 – 13) For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14) your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15) As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
We must receive freely in order to give freely. One of the worst issues in churches and Christian ministries today is burnout. In most churches 5% to 20% of the congregation does 80% to 90% of the work of ministry and maintaining operations. Most of these leaders give freely. Many of them too freely. While serving their memberships, church leaders at times neglect their own homes, families and friendships. Some even neglect their own spiritual well-being in favour of serving others.
We can’t feed others when we ourselves are empty. It is important to take some time and ensure our own lives have some balance—rest, vacations, spiritual nurture, time of enjoyment with family and friends. The life of Jesus shows us that all of these are essential. We see Him communing with His disciples, spending time at the home of close friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus, and most importantly taking time away from everyone else to spend in worship with God.
Mark 1:35 – And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
It is time spent with God that fuels us and enables us to be of service to Him and to each other. God gives to us freely so we can give freely to others.
Deuteronomy 15:10 – You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake.