Yesterday we took a first look at this scripture that Luke wrote to report what Paul said:
I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
Acts 20:35, NLT
Today we take a second look.
Paul presents himself as an example of someone who worked hard to earn enough money so he was in a position to help others. As opposed to being a preacher who was only after other people’s money.
But let’s be honest. We usually only look at the “It is more blessed to give than receive” part.
And when we do we generally reduce it to: Give = Good, Receive = Bad.
Here’s a thought: Every form of exchange requires two parties—a giver and a receiver.
Even money we earn is based on giving and receiving. An employee gives time and effort which an employer receives. In exchange, the employer gives compensation which the employee receives.
Yes, according to scripture giving is the “more blessed” activity.
Still, you can’t have a giver without a receiver. Giving and receiving go together like apple pie and cheddar cheese.
Now here’s the rub. Giving may be more blessed, but for many people receiving—graciously—is definitely more difficult.
Especially when you’re used to handling your own personal business.
A while back a friend sent me a hundred bucks. Out of the blue. No explanations, no reasons, no cover letter, no card. He just sent me money.
It made me FEEL things. Uncomfortable things. It made me feel…vulnerable.
But that’s what it TAKES to graciously receive an unexpected, undeserved gift.
There are other reasons receiving can be complicated. Sometimes pride gets in the way. Sometimes it feels selfish. Sometimes we’re afraid of strings being attached. Sometimes our own baggage trips us up—especially if previous gifts have been used as manipulation tactics.
Receiving can be complicated.
Which might explain why people flare away from salvation through Jesus Christ: The gift of salvation through Jesus Christ comes at what cost?
We have to ask for it. We have to change course. We have to become vulnerable.
Jesus encouraged people to be vulnerable when he asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36; Matt. 20:32; Mark 10:51). He was also seeing if they’d be honest—with themselves and with Jesus—when he asked, “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6).
To answer questions like that takes vulnerability. Whether it’s Jesus or anyone else. We have to believe they care about what’s REALLY going on in our lives, and we have to be willing to admit our needs.
How would you answer if Jesus asked, “Do you want to be healed?”
Can you be honest with yourself? Can you be honest with Jesus? Can you be that vulnerable?
Do you want to be healed? Do you want to be saved?
Receiving. Sometimes it isn’t all that complicated after all.
The word immaculate is defined as being “spotless, pure, and without stain”.
According to scripture, “immaculate” is what asking God for his gift of salvation makes YOU:
I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the heart, teaching me wisdom even there. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:5-7, NLT
Honesty from the heart. The vulnerability to admit, and ask, and receive.
Now THAT’S an Immaculate Reception.
Today read Psalm 51:5-7 one more time. The scripture above. And this time read it out loud. Then thank God for making you immaculate—spotless, pure, and without stain—as only He is able to do.