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Thinking of God with Larry Sheehy
Jesus wants us to be do-gooders
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    In Acts 20:35, Paul quotes the Lord Jesus as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” It’s unimportant that we do not know the occasion on which he made the statement. What is important is the message behind it.
    The idea that it is better to give to others than to receive for ourselves is one to which most will pay lip service, but relatively few in reality practice habitually. To see someone who actually enjoys giving things away is rare indeed and usually draws quite a bit of publicity, especially if the gift is a large one. Jesus drew a contrast between two opposing aims or philosophies of life — that of charitable, open-handed generosity and always being on the receiving end of the kindness of others. Now it’s clear that most are not one of these types, completely exclusive of the other. Most of us practice a little of both most of the time. But what Jesus does mean is that people put more emphasis on one or the other; they are either “Givers” or “Getters.” Nor is it something made obvious in one or two isolated incidents, but rather over a period of time. Judas was a Getter, as was the rich fool in Luke 12. Contrast them with the apostle Peter, who told the lame beggar at the temple, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.” (Acts 3:6) And what a gift he gave him. At Peter’s command the man arose and walked, leaping and running for the first time in his life. Yes, Peter was a Giver. I don’t know that he had always been, but he was then.
    Jesus says that “it is blessed to receive,” and to that we all say a hearty “Amen” — “May it be so!” We have all — almost without exception — received all of our lives, even though we like to talk about the “hard tines” we have lived through, as compared with others. We began to receive when we first came forth from our mother’s womb, and have been doing so ever since, only some more so than others.
    But at the same time that Jesus says that it is good to receive, he affirms that it is even better to give. It is better because it is the only real way that we can repay a part of what we have received from others.
    A brief cautionary note may be in order. We must not think that, in giving to others, we are making even a small payment on the overwhelming debt that we owe to Jesus and God. Jesus said "Whenever you [do] it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you [do] it for me." (Matthew 25:40, CEV) There are many reasons why it is more blessed to give than to receive. Not the least of which are these: we know we are obeying and honor our savior; and, in giving we receive the joy of seeing others have what they may need. See what a nice turn of events this is? By giving we receive at the same time.

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