Imagine we were meeting at a coffee shop. Or your favorite place to grab lunch. Or the best restaurant in town for great dessert. We’re just meeting as friends, getting together to spend an hour or so catching up on each other’s lives. Doesn’t that sound nice?
Now, what if I picked up the check? What if I bought your coffee or sandwich or slice of pie? Would you object?
Be honest. It’s okay. I would object if you tried to pay for my hot chocolate.
What’s my point? You, my friend, have a problem.
I know. I do too.
The Problem We Face
Take a moment to remove the emotion and think logically about this situation with me for a moment. We’re at the coffee shop, and I try to pay for your coffee. You object, insisting you can pay for it yourself. Got the scene in your mind?
Here’s the bottom line. You are fighting me over, what? Five dollars?
Sure, I remember times in my life when five dollars was a big deal. I wouldn’t have met you at the coffee shop much less offered to buy yours because I couldn’t afford to buy my own. So let me be clear that we’re not talking about the practical financial side of whether we should be buying $5 coffee to begin with.
No, instead I want to focus on our heart that denies others the pleasure of giving.
The Words of Jesus: Better to Give
Most of America could repeat the phrase, “It’s better to give than to receive.” It’s something good parents try to instill in their children from a young age. Children clearly display the selfishness born into us, and it’s good for us to learn to be givers.
But you may not know that these words that so easily tumble from our lips came straight from the mouth of Jesus.
In Acts 20, the apostle Paul is on his way to Jerusalem. At one of the stops along the way, the elders of the church at Ephesus meet him, and Paul issues his farewell to them. He knows that prison and hardship are in his future, and he believes that he will never see them again. His last recorded words to these men were:
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.’
Yes. It is blessed to give.
That Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Blessed to Receive.
But we must recognize that Jesus never said it’s not a blessing to receive. He simply said that it is more blessed to give.
Think about some of the best presents you’ve ever received. Even now, as I think through those moments, feelings of joy and contentment come rushing to the surface. I loved the gifts and the giver. I appreciated the time, and I valued the effort. I felt cared about and known.
It is a blessing to receive.
Gifts Require a Giver and a Receiver
All gifts require both a giver and a receiver.
Imagine a Christmas tree decorated and fully stocked with presents that are never opened. What’s the fun in that? Is that a blessing to anyone?
While we should emphasize the practice of giving, we can’t under-emphasize the practice of humbly receiving. In other words, if we are to properly practice giving, we must have someone ready to receive the gift.
We need to practice both.
So the next time your friend invites you to coffee … yeah, you get the idea.