Truth from the Top
November 1, 2023
And 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
Paul was a man of absolute humility. He certainly was not afraid to own his flaws and failures—he said he had been the chief of all sinners. But he told the truth about his earnest and strong priority following of Jesus as well. That was not bragging. It was the transparent truth necessary from a leader.
In Acts 20 Luke records the account of Paul leaving his Ephesian friends for the final time after he had planted the church and lived with them for three years. It was hard on everyone to see him go, not only because they wanted him to stay, but because he was so honest about His future. He said he didn’t know exactly what was going to happen as he followed God’s leading to Jerusalem, except that he knew that hardship and persecution awaited him at every port.
Paul told them he knew they would never see his face again, so he was anxious to leave them with what was most important. As he stood on the shore with these beloved leaders before they embraced him and led him to the ship, he spoke of several things, obviously vital and dear to his heart.
He gave personal testimony that he had done the Lord’s work with humility and many tears, reaping many trials and threats. His one message was that God loved all people equally, and there was no difference between us to God. He wants everyone to live by an active faith in Jesus Christ. Everything he was doing, including most likely marching to his own death, was under the direction of the Holy Spirit. He wasn’t concerned about the violent prospects in front of him—his life was worth nothing to him if it in anyway prohibited him from preaching the gospel. He wanted to finish the race faithfully and well.
False teachers would come and try to draw them away from the truth. He told them to put primary importance on guarding their own hearts and the hearts of the people God had entrusted to them. Then in his very last comments he reminded them that they hadn’t had to pay him anything—he worked to support himself. He said he was “a constant example of how you can help others by working hard.” Notice he didn’t say, “You can get ahead by working hard” or “You can be a success by working hard.” It was “You can help others.” Then he called on the witness of the “Lord” (our Leader) Jesus. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” If a Jesus-follower the caliber and character of Paul made Jesus’ words about giving and generosity his last words to the people he so dearly loved, we would do well to pay attention.
- Would anyone derive from the actions of my life that it is more blessed to give than to receive?