[#pictureLent] Mar. 3: Giving is a Blessing

By Tracie Ashley
Killearn UMC, Tallahassee, FL

First, read Acts 20:35

It must have been one of those moments. Moments you think back and reflect on. Moments you cherish. Bittersweet. Paul gathered the elders at the church of Ephesus to say a final goodbye.

He would not see them again here on earth after this. He gathered them and helped them, in turn, to reflect back on the time they had spent together. He reminded them how he lived and served, never hesitated to preach, declared the Good News to all, and now, being compelled by the Holy Spirit, was going to Jerusalem. He reminisced with the elders not to point to himself, but to Christ.

Paul’s last words to this group of spiritual children is our verse today. “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

It was as if his last words were an appeal to reflect on all they had been given by God and to pursue a lifestyle of generously loving others as a response to God’s amazing grace. As a response from the abundant, overflowing work of the Holy Spirit in their lives comes Paul’s reminder to help the weak. And it is from that responsive giving that we are blessed by His transforming Presence, blessed by becoming a little more like Christ and blessed to be a blessing again.

Sometimes I like to think about the details of the Bible that we are not privy to. For instance in this passage I try and visualize who these elders may have been. What were they like? What were their specific roles in the Church of Ephesus? What were their gifts, talents and dreams?

But God is wise to not give us all of those specifics. For it is in the unknown that Christ teaches us that this message isn’t just for them, but for all of us. In this space we hear God gently nudging us, asking us to reflect who we are in Christ. What is our role? What are our gifts and talents and dreams?

Take time this week to be still, to reflect, and to contemplate God’s grace. Ask God to show you ways to love and serve others. Ask for ways to use your gifts and talents to serve Him, as we pursue a lifestyle of generously loving others. Ask God to guide your heart and mind to love and serve the weak, just as we have been lavishly loved. And know that the grace of it is, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Prayer: Of Lord, thank You for the witness of Paul and the life he lived for You. May we learn from him, mistakes and all, to lead a life that serves You and loves You by serving and loving others. Help us to remove anything that is in the way of fervently seeking You and joyfully helping others. Amen.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some ways that God has shown grace to you through others?
  2. What are you gifted in and passionate about that you could use to serve others?
  3. Are there barriers in your schedule, activities or feelings that are keeping you from pursuing a life of loving God and loving others?