32 Now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all whom God has made holy. 33 I haven’t craved anyone’s silver, gold, or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that I have provided for my own needs and for those of my companions with my own hands. 35 In everything I have shown you that, by working hard, we must help the weak. In this way we remember the Lord Jesus’ words: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
There is a dignity that comes from self-sufficiency. In our desire to help people, we sometimes forget that. Whether with our children, or with anyone, our goal in helping others should always be to empower them to become self-sufficient – to the utmost extent that it’s possible for that particular individual at this time in their lives. Ultimately, each of us has to take responsibility for ourselves.
Paul understood this. When he was preaching in a place long-term, he worked at his trade of tent-making. It helped ease the burden on those whom he was serving with the gospel. It also gave him an income that offered him the ability to help others, which is another form of empowerment.
Recently, someone made a gift to the discretionary fund, the account we use to help those in need, with a note: “There was a time when our family needed assistance. We were glad for the help. Please use this gift to bless someone else.” In that note, you also see the other side of this equation: for every giver, there must also be a receiver.
As much as we all desire self-sufficiency, the community of faith has a responsibility to step in to help when we see a need – knowing that there may come a day when we ourselves require that same kind of care. This too is a spiritual discipline – being able to ask for and receive help. There is a humility that we learn by receiving that we can never achieve through giving.
I agree with Jesus: it is more blessed to give than to receive. But I like that Jesus’ words also imply the truth that both can be a blessing.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
How has your spiritual journey been shaped by giving? How has it been shaped by receiving?
Do you struggle with being overly self-reliant? Today, when someone offers to do you a favor, let them and take note of how it feels. Remember, for every gift, there must also be a recipient!