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suggest that giving everything you own is the holiest option. But what exactly does Paul mean in the first half of the verse about his labouring and supporting the weak?
When you read Scripture, it is important to read the entire context. I realize that I have asked you to look at one chapter and one verse. The reason why I did this is because the majority of the people that read scriptures or interpret them are doing just that; reading one verse and trying to interpret that one verse outside of its context. If you are going to base your belief system on just one verse, then you are headed for a disastrous interpretation of Scripture that could lead you down a road that God never intended for you to travel. Wrong understanding of Scripture will always lead to wrong choices and wrong living.
So how should we examine that one verse? Let’s look at the entire context in which that statement is made. In order to understand the context, you must go back to verse 17. You’ll notice that Paul is addressing the elders of the church. The reason why he is doing this is because he is defending his work in the ministry.
In summary, Paul is talking about how he preached to both the Jews and the Gentiles. He preaches the gospel despite the fact that there are trials and tribulations. These trials and tribulations don’t affect Paul because he realizes that what he is doing is for the greater good. Paul is admitting that preaching God’s word of grace could lead to his death. Paul then declares that after he departs there will be people that follow him to distort the gospel. He then goes on to say that he lived a life of righteousness and that he did not desire another person’s wealth. He backs this up by saying that he provided for his own needs with his own hands. He showed that by labouring like this he was able to take care of the weak. That’s when Paul goes into quoting Jesus who says, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
When you take the entire scripture in context, what he is really saying is that he worked to provide for himself and to take care of his necessities. During his ministry he did not ask for other people to support him. So when Paul quotes Jesus about it being more blessed to give than to receive, what he’s really saying is that God has provided for him and he has more than enough. He is at the point where he can give to others, especially taking care of the people that are in unfavourable circumstances. So now I ask you this, which one would you rather be: the one who is able to give or the one who must receive?
The one who is able to give is in a much better position than the one who has to receive. The reason why is because the one receiving is in a state of lack. Common sense says, it is better (more blessed) to give by virtue of the fact that they have wealth. Did you catch that? If you have enough wealth, then you’re better off than the person who has none. Because you are blessed, you now have the ability to give.
Since Paul is quoting Jesus, then it is in our best interest to see what context in which Jesus spoke those words. I challenge you right now to go through all of the Gospels and find where Jesus actually said those words. The reason why I say that is because there is no indication in Scriptures that Jesus even said those words. Which means that this was Paul’s interpretation of who Jesus is.
Paul is not wrong in interpreting who Jesus is, but he is not directly quoting Jesus in any way. What Paul is doing is summarizing the life of Christ. Jesus gave of Himself so that we might be able to receive. In other words, in the case of Jesus who is God in the flesh, it is better that Jesus gives to us because we are in a position that requires saving. We as human beings need to receive Jesus. Jesus was in a better position than the rest of humanity. Therefore, it is better that He give to us. And it is good for us to receive.
What Paul was doing was summarizing the life of Jesus, and for that matter, Old Testament Scriptures, in his quote. Take for example Psalm 41:1: “Blessed is he who considers the poor; The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.”
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, 8 but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. 9 Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the Lord against you, and it become sin among you. 10 You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. 11 For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’”
Proverbs 19:17 "He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given."
Proverbs 22:9 "He ho has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives bread to the poor."
Proverbs 28:27 "He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses."
Does this shed some light on the topic of money? These scriptures clearly point out that it is better to give than to receive. If you were in a constant state of receiving, then you couldn’t lend to the Lord, or give bread to the poor because you yourself would be poor. Can you see how teachers and preachers could have easily misinterpreted one verse of the entire Bible to establish the mindset that one should be poor while serving the Lord? Do you see now why you cannot just take one part of the scripture and make it the end-all in your life to live by?
I’ve heard that quote many times in the past and can honestly tell you that I understood it as giving away everything that you have as an act of humility and compassion, to the point of having nothing. Those who have misinterpreted Scripture as I did, ended up forfeiting the blessed life that God had originally designed for them. This is where the idea came in that priests and nuns must live in poverty to serve the needy. That’s like the blind leading the blind.
Acts 20:35 is stating that it is simply better to be on the side that has the ability to give. In the context in which Paul said what he did, he admitted that he was blessed to work to provide for himself, as well as to give to the weak. Take this time to find out how God can bless others through you and your blessings.
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Acts 20:35 Paul says, “I have shown you in every way, by labouring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he said, ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
In a nutshell, it looks as though Paul was saying that it is more blessed to give and that to receive is not as important. Paul even backs his words up by saying that Jesus is the one that says it is best to give. One might even
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This is an excerpt from Joshua’s Book found on amazon.com, “Jesus Demonstrates the Law of Attraction: Is Your Church Missing These Biblical Points?”
If you were in a constant state of receiving, then you couldn’t lend to the Lord, or give bread to the poor because you yourself would be poor.