“It is more blessed to give than to receive” – Acts 20:35

 

One of the earliest life lessons learned by children is sharing. When a child learns how to share, it’s a sign they are maturing. The same is true spiritually. When a Christian learns how to share, how to give of themselves, it is a sign of spiritual maturity. But, as with children, sharing or giving away is a lesson learned with difficulty or trepidation. Like a child, we wonder, “If I let Johnny use my toy truck, will I ever get it back? What if I want to use it when he is using it, will he give it back?” As adults we sometimes resist sharing or giving away for fear we will somehow be diminished or at a loss. Our thinking may go something like this, “If I give to that need before me, will I still have enough for myself, my family? If I give my time to serve, will I still have enough time to do what I want to do, to have fun, to get that job around the house done? If I give my money for ministry, will I have enough for myself, for what I want to spend on?” Yes, learning to share and give, in whatever form it takes, can be a complicated lesson to learn. Indeed, we can resist learning such a life lesson.

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). If Jesus said that, why aren’t we more willing to work, eager to share, to give, to let go? Why are we more inclined to be tightfisted than open handed? Why aren’t we eager and enthusiastic about every opportunity presented to us by God to share, to give? In Proverbs it states, “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty” (Proverbs 11:24). Our inclination should be toward giving, not grabbing.

Solomon in his wisdom was inspired to add, “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself” (Proverbs 11:25). Do you see generosity as an impediment to your wealth? If you do you are off course and living contrary to the truth of scripture. Solomon also warns, “The people will curse him who withholds grain, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it” (Proverbs 11:26). Good stewardship is not just saving or hoarding, it is being a channel, a conduit of God’s blessings to others. In the New Testament James said fittingly, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). Sharing our blessings leads to more blessing and spiritual maturity. To resist sharing and to hold on selfishly to what we have been given, leads to poverty, a poor testimony, and sin.

The lack of a sharing spirit is an indication of a lack of proper perspective. John the Baptist, a servant of the Lord mightily used by Him, was suited for introducing Jesus to the world because in his heart he had learned, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven” (John 3:27). That can be applied not only to one’s calling, but to everything in our lives. In the same context John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Jesus will be great and glorified in proportion to your decrease in attention. When you try to push yourself to the forefront, you will decrease. When you push Jesus to the forefront, you will be great in God’s eyes. If you want to be used by the Lord, if you want to bring Him glory, learn to share and give.

Paul would later speak similarly to the church in Rome. “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). This lesson of sharing and giving is one learned by God’s grace, it is a gift. It is a gift because it leads to blessing as Jesus said. It is a blessing because as we learn to not think of ourselves more highly than we ought, we are humbled. “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5; cf. also Proverbs 3:34; and James 4:6). Humbly sharing and giving is like opening a window to heaven’s blessings and God’s grace. God wants us to learn the lesson of sharing so He can bless us more.

Sharing and giving indicates our level of faith and spiritual maturity. In Romans 12:3 Paul punctuates his inspired statement about humility by saying, “as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” The context is about spiritual gifting and serving in the church. Romans 12 begins by stating, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). The gist of Paul’s words is that, considering all that God has done for us in our salvation and sanctification in Romans 1-11, the only reasonable response is to present ourselves and all that we are to God as living sacrifices. A living sacrifice is dead, dead to self, dead to their possessions, dead. A living sacrifice is not characterized by the immature childish mine, mine, mine, but by the spiritual maturity that looks to God and says Yours, Yours, Yours! This is holy living, living not by worldly standards but by transformed and renewed standards according to God’s good and acceptable and perfect will. This is not only a “spiritual” endeavor, but by Paul mentioning “your bodies” he is pointing to our physical being and all that relates to who we are in this world.

From his clause, “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith,” Paul then goes on to speak of serving in the church with whatever spiritual gift God has elected you to use (Romans 12:4-8). We serve and contribute to the church body with a spirit characterized by love, sincerity, abhorrence of evil and clinging to what is good (Romans 12:9). We are to be kind, loving, and honoring toward those in the church (Romans 12:10). We aren’t to be lazy but instead excited to serve the Lord by serving others (Romans 12:11). Rejoicing, being hopeful, patient, prayerful and “distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality” is our calling from God (Romans 12:12-13). Are you seeing the spirit of sharing, of giving yet?

We are even to “bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Romans 12:14). We are to be empathetic. We should share in the joyfulness of people and not be a wet blanket stifling their spiritual fire. Do you have a hard time rejoicing with others? Are you only rejoicing when the praise is coming your way? If so, you’re proud and have put yourself in a place opposed by God. When people are sad and disconsolate, do you join in their pain (Romans 12:15). Be a comforter. Be agreeable with the brethren. Don’t look down pompously on people. Don’t have an agenda to push your opinions on others. Be humble. Be humble. Be humble (Romans 12:16).

In this evil world, “Repay no one evil for evil.” Instead, “Have regard for good things in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17). Don’t be known for being vengeful. Be known for focusing on and promoting that which is good. “Good” (Greek kalos) refers to things that are beautiful, truly valuable, and virtuous, honest, excellent, commendable. Our world needs such an emphasis. When was the last time you brought some beauty, some benefit into a person’s life? Try it, you’ll be blessed.

Be known as one who promotes peace. Don’t seek revenge, but release offenders and victimizers to God for He says, “’Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the LORD” (Romans 12:19). In fact, do good to your enemies; feed them, treat them like they don’t expect you to treat them (Romans 12:20). Treat them like they don’t deserve to be treated. You know, like God treated you (Romans 5:8). Yes, to share and give means to not be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

You might be thinking at this point, “Hmmm, that’s a tall order.” It is a tall order if God expected us to do this in our own strength. But we need to keep in mind and heart that it is the Holy Spirit who helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26). The Holy Spirit will help us pray all of this through. We don’t have to learn the lesson of sharing and giving on our own. The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth (John 16:13). He is our “Helper,” One just like Jesus Resident in our heart (John 14:26). We are not orphans in this endeavor, but the Spirit is with us (John 14:16-18).

The key to learning the lesson of sharing and giving is understanding and accepting the truth that, “And what do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). What we have is not “mine.” What we have is, “Thine.” Jesus said the key to satisfaction is giving. In this sense, if we seek first His kingdom and righteousness, all our needs will be met, we never have to worry (Matthew 6:33-34). If God does not provide something we think we “need,” then there is a good chance that we have mistaken a want for a need. God loves us and all His decisions toward us are loving. If He decides to withhold or to not give us something we want, then it is for our own good. We need to trust Him. His measure of the faith He gives us is a good measure of what He does and does not want us to share and give.

Finally, the greatest part of learning to share and give is love. Our sharing and giving is a strong indicator of the depth and maturity of our love. And remember, love is the greatest. Whatever we do, if it doesn’t have love in it, it’s worthless (1 Corinthians 13). How does this practical apply? John the Apostle of love, wrote:

1 John 3:16–18 (NKJV) – 16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

The love of God, agape love, is defined in giving. The more you give, the more you love. God is the greatest Lover since He gave the greatest gift, His Son Jesus. That is the example we are to follow. When we give what is costly to us, because of love, we are giving greatly. Truly, if we have been given God’s blessings in the form of “the world’s goods,” and hold back helping those in need, shutting up our heart toward them, then we are confronted with the question, “How does the love of God abide in him?” It’s not enough to pay lip service to love. We must practically, truthfully love others.

If we are to be disciples of Jesus and be known by our love, then we must love practically (John 13:35). The greatest love is laying our life down for others (John 15:13). This is the love God pours out into our heart by the Holy Spirit who regenerates and indwells us (Romans 5:5). This is the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s holy work in us and a sign of spiritual maturity (Galatians 5:22). Sharing and giving in love is the greatest evidence of spiritual maturity. So if an opportunity arises to give to someone, give. If an opportunity arises to share or serve, volunteer, get involved, help out. It is more blessed to give than to receive. Bless others, and you will be blessed.

As Jesus was nearing Jerusalem where He would give the greatest example of sharing, giving, loving, He taught the Parable of the Ten Minas (Luke 19:11-27; Matthew 25:14-30). This parable teaches us how we should use the resources provided to us by Jesus. The Parable of the Minas provides us with apt concluding points about sharing, giving, serving.

Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’

A “mina” was a Greek coin worth one hundred drachmas. A drachma was the common daily wage of a laborer. It is also a pound in weight. Therefore, the nobleman gave ten of his servants a little more than three months wages each.

Divine resources. Be faithful to use what the Lord gives you. Each of us is given certain spiritual giftings, material blessings, talents, abilities, aptitudes. That is not accidental. That is not the mere product of genes or evolution. God created us and ordained, to give each of us certain resources that we in turn should use for Him in life. When a person comes to Jesus and is spiritually born, we receive spiritual gifts to glorify God (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4). The greatest gift entrusted to the followers of Jesus, is the gospel of Jesus Christ (e.g., 2 Corinthians 4:7). Are we sharing that gospel with those around us?

“Do business till I come.” As he left he entrusted ten of his servants with a mina (i.e., about three months wages) each with the command, “Do business till I come” (19:11-13). The word “business” (Greek pragmteusasthe – Aorist/Middle/Imperative of the verb pragmateuomai) means it is imperative to be busy, to trade, to do business, to occupy yourself with fulfilling your responsibilities. The idea is being busy doing business diligently. It means expending great energy and effort producing effective results as opposed to spending time casually working at something. In other words, Jesus said, “Get to work!” This should be our all-consuming attitude regarding the things that were and are important to Jesus. Just prior to this parable, Jesus had echoed His mission, “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’

Some hate Jesus and want nothing to do with His command to “Do business till I come.” Some may pay Him lip service, but their inaction contradicts their words. How about you, are you doing the business of Jesus while awaiting His return? Would your service to Jesus look more like you hated Him, loved Him, or were indifferent to Him?

15 “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.

Upon his return the nobleman called the servants to give an account of what they had done with the ten minas (19:15). We will all stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10). And when we do, we will have to give an account of the business we did for Jesus with the resources He provided to us. If you were to stand before Jesus today, what would He say about the holy soul seeking business you did for Him?

 16 Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’

This is a principle of stewardship. If you are faithful in what the Lord gives you, He will provide you with more. We reap what we sow (e.g., Galatians 6:7-9). That Jesus speaks of the nobleman putting the faithful servants in charge of “cities,” speaks to us about how we will reign with Jesus during the Millennial Kingdom. What we are given to oversee in that Kingdom Age by Jesus, will be based on how we serve Him now.

The measure of success is faithfulness (1 Corinthians 4:2). We do not measure our success by fruitfulness because all increase comes from God (1 Corinthians 3:7). So, we cannot take credit for what is produced through us. But when we are faithful with a little, the Lord provides more for us to work with.

 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ 19 Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’

The first two servants that gave account had differing achievements, but the nobleman complimented both and gave each even greater responsibility (19:16-19). They both were commended by the nobleman. To the servant who produced ten minas, the nobleman said, “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.” To the one who produced five minas, the nobleman said, “Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’” While salvation is a free gift of God’s grace received by faith, there will be rewards in heaven. And our rewards will be based on our efforts in this life until Jesus returns, or we die. C.T. Studd the missionary said, “This one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last. And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be, if the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.” Does that express your heart? Does your life express such a statement of sharing, of giving, of serving?

 20 “Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. 21 For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’

Sadly, the third servant came and returned the mina with no profit. What kept this servant from turning a profit?

First, the unprofitable servant feared the nobleman. “Feared” (Greek ephoboumen) means fear, be afraid, became terrified, It is associated with a feeling that causes to run, or to be put to flight. It means flight because of terror. Fear is the foe of faith. This fear doubted the justness of God to judge fairly. When we fear, it indicates a lack of faith in God. This is a fear of not measuring up, of not doing good enough, of falling short. It’s as though we are too afraid of God to serve God.

But there is another fear that hinders us. There is a fear that prevents us from sharing and giving and serving because it doubts God will provide for us in some way. This is similar to the first fear because it also doubts God. But this fear takes the servant even lower. This fear doubts God’s love and care for us. Is this the fear that holds you back from giving? Trust God and give away and discover how much He loves you and others through you.

Second, the unprofitable servant felt the nobleman was “austere.” “Austere” (Greek austeros) means exacting, austere, harsh, stern, The unprofitable servant viewed the nobleman like “a man who expects to get blood out of a stone.” This is a very uncomplimentary view of the nobleman. It projects a view the nobleman was unreasonable, expected more than should be expected, was mean and harsh and a task master. Is that the way you view God?

Third, the unprofitable servant accused the nobleman of “You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’” This is an accusation of injustice and criminality. It was an accusation of extortion against the nobleman.

 Fear, austere, and an accusation of injustice against the nobleman stifled this unprofitable servant from being profitable and receiving a reward. Do you fear God so much you don’t do anything for Him? Do you view God as harsh? Do you accuse God of injustice? Do you think God asks too much of you? If you do, pay close attention of what Jesus goes on to say in this parable. Jesus’ response may surprise you. Sharing, giving, and serving are important.

22 And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant.

 Jesus said those that have the attitude like that of the unprofitable servant were “wicked.” “Wicked” (Greek ponere of poneros) means bad, wicked, evil, depraved. The words spoken out of his own mouth would provide the convicting evidence. Jesus said, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36).

 You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’

A low view of God. This servant had a low view of God. This servant’s opinion of the nobleman was offensive. It was disrespectful. It besmirched the character and reputation of the nobleman. And when we have the same view of God, that He is unjust, unfair, unloving, and not a good Provider for our needs, we do the same thing to God’s character before people.

Even if this unprofitable servant felt the way he did, he could have at least deposited the money in the bank so his master could collect interest. That this wicked servant didn’t make this minimal effort is an indication of a deeper problem. This is evidence of not only neglect, but an attitude that apparently didn’t expect the nobleman to return at all. This wicked servant just didn’t care. How about you, have you even done the minimum of investing your God-given resources and talents so Jesus can collect interest upon His return?

24 “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’ 25 (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) 26 ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.

Use it or lose it. If you fail or refuse to use the gracious resources God gives you to use for His glory, you will have them removed from you.

Use it and be given more. If you invest and use the resources of the Lord, you will be given more. This doesn’t mean we should haphazardly use our God-given resources. It means we should work hard and invest wisely and produce for the glory of God. When we do that, we don’t have to worry about running out of resources. God will supply.

God gives to those who will use what He gives them. The nobleman assessed this one as a “wicked servant,” and took his mina from him and gave it to the servant who had invested the mina wisely. We will not be given much by the Lord to use if we are Christian hoarders. But if we are willing to trust God and invest and serve Him, we can expect to be given more to use for His glory.

27 But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’”

 Then the nobleman called for his enemies to be brought before him to be slain before him (19:14 and 27). The attitude and inaction of the unprofitable servant put him in the camp with the enemies of the Lord. He acted more like an enemy than a loyal servant of his Lord. And only a few days from now, these same people “enemies” will reject Christ and call for His crucifixion.

Who is Jesus speaking about here? While this seems harsh, it was par for the course in Jesus’ day. Such a nobleman could have unproductive or irresponsible servants executed before them. But who is Jesus speaking about here? How should we apply these words? There are two possibilities.

It’s likely that Jesus was speaking of the possibility that not everyone who claimed to be of Him, actually was. Jesus previously illustrated this by way of referring to tares among the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). A tare is a piece of wheat that consists of only the shell. On the outside it looks like any other kernel of wheat. But when opened, it’s empty. Similarly, there are people who look like Christians on the outside but are empty hearted on the inside. They may wear Jesus imprinted clothing. They may speak Jesus-lingo. They may even hang out with those who are indeed genuinely saved and serving the Lord. But they are empty, unfruitful, and unsaved from their sins (e.g., Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46).

These are serious words of Jesus that we need to think about. These are words of eternal destiny. You see, Jesus didn’t come to create another religious system of dos and don’ts. Jesus didn’t come to make more rituals or ceremonies. Jesus came to fulfill all that the sacrificial system pictured about Himself. Jesus came to show lost sinful humanity that it’s not about religion, it’s about relationship. Jesus said:

John 17:3 (NKJV) – And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Jesus said salvation and eternal life are all about knowing God and knowing Him. Do you know Jesus? If you aren’t sure, becoming sure is as simple as ABC. First, admit you are a sinner in need of salvation. Second, believe or trust in Jesus as your Savior, that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sin sins which is death. Third, call on the name of Jesus for salvation and then seek to have God help you live with Him as your Lord. (see Romans 3:10; Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9; Romans 10:13).

Mina, mina, mina. What was so damning about the unfruitful servant? What was so wicked about the inaction of this last servant? Was it simply a monetary matter? No, it was much more than this. The inactivity of the wicked servant implied that he did not expect or desire the return of the nobleman; he assumed he wouldn’t come back. His attitude was immature spiritually. He was like a spiritual baby holding tight fisted to what he had been entrust with, crying Mina, mina, mina. And because of this self-centered mindset, he was an enemy within the household of the nobleman and deserved the same fate of the enemies that outwardly opposed the nobleman.

Actions speak louder than words. When we do nothing with what the Lord entrusts to us, it implies we really don’t believe He’s coming back. We may even have a desire that He doesn’t come back. We may simply be tightfisted, self-centered, self-serving, and living a life that says, mine, mine, mine. That is wicked.

Genuine faith is fruitful. Living faith is alive with spiritual fruit of obedience and service to Jesus. The message here is faithfulness is wisely using and investing what the Lord entrusts to you. Faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). If we are going to be ready for Jesus coming we need to invest what He has entrusted to us in a way that will yield a profit. Our talents, material resources, spiritual gifting, everything He has entrusted to us should be invested in the priority of seeking and saving the lost. So, what will it be for you? Will it be mine, mine, mine, or Thine, Thine, Thine? I pray you find and live the more blessed giving way of Jesus. In Jesus’ name, amen!

 

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