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.’ Acts 20:35
In Acts 20, as he is heading out to Jerusalem, Paul addresses the elders at Ephesus and charges them to remain faithful in shepherding the flock that Jesus purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28). He concludes his farewell speech by quoting a saying of Jesus as a motive for serving others. This saying is not included in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), but found only here in Scripture. While a very popular saying (even in pop culture), the truth of Jesus’ words must be at the forefront of our thinking when we don’t want to serve others.
Why does Paul say, “remember the words of the Lord Jesus?” Because we often forget that giving to others is better than receiving. Our sinful hearts love to be served and receive from others (and there is nothing wrong with being served by others). But the hard part is remembering that it is better to serve than to be served. In fact, this was the very mission of Jesus!
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28
There is more blessing in serving than being served. Jesus modeled it; Paul preached it. The next time you are tired, weary, exhausted, depleted, fatigued, drained, and “all tuckered out”- remember the words of the Servant Jesus- “it is more blessed (Greek: Μακάριόν= Happy) to give than to receive.”
When you gather around family and friends today to celebrate Thanksgiving, remember the words of Jesus. Be a servant. Be the last one in line to eat. Offer to wash all the dishes. Get people re-fills on their drinks. Don’t take the last cookie or piece of pie! Keep before you the blessing and the joy and the happiness that you will receive as you serve.
“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2