By Drew Zuverink
"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
One common mistake that we often make as Christians is to read Jesus' teachings as what ought to be instead of understanding them as what is. When Jesus said that it is better to give than to receive, he wasn't saying that it ought to be more enjoyable for people to give, he was saying that it is more enjoyable to give than it is to receive. Jesus taught how things are not just how things ought to be.
This makes sense if you think about it long enough. After all, Jesus is God, he's the one who created everything and so surely he knows exactly how life on earth works. That is what makes Jesus' teachings so powerful. Jesus came down from heaven, into a world that had been searching for the best way to do things, and he taught them exactly how things work. In no way was Jesus just teaching another possible way of doing life, a way that might be better than how they had been living. No, Jesus was laying out the very blueprint for exactly how to live the most fulfilled, enjoyable, fantastic life possible.
The problem with us is that we often don't believe him. Jesus taught things that are so counter cultural to how we and our friends live, that we just find them too hard to believe. Frankly, most of us are not ready to learn how to do all of life from Jesus. Don't get me wrong, there are many ways of doing certain aspects life that we willingly follow in Jesus' footsteps. I'm saying that some of us aren't ready to learn how to do all aspects of life from Jesus. There is still enough sin in us to deceive us into thinking that, in some areas of life, we know a better way of doing things than God does.
Of course that is a lie from the pit of hell. No human will ever figure out a better, more fulfilled, or happier way of living, than Jesus taught. The devil and his minions know this, which is exactly why they work so hard to convince us to do life our own way. They whisper in our ear, "I know that God says it's better to life a generous life of giving, but that means you will have less for yourself, and surely it's more enjoyable to have more and bigger stuff."
What a lie!
Consumerism slowly chokes a person into depression! Surely I cannot be the only one who experiences this! When I fall into the trap of wanting more stuff, when my mind gets fixated on a new thing that I just need to have, when I envy another person's house or car - it feels like I am being choked to death. I don't know how else to describe it, it's the opposite of feeling alive or free. But at the same time I wonder, "Could it really be better to have less clothes instead of more clothes?" "Could it really be better to have a smaller, cheaper house, rather than a bigger, nicer, and more expensive one?" Even if I could afford more, is actually better to choose to give more, instead of to have more?
Jesus says that it is. As we step into another holiday season and the start of a new year, I confess that I am convicted of changes that I need to make. But this conviction is not a bad thing, instead I can see the freedom that I am being offered. Praise God for his convicting work! Maybe you can relate to me, a confessing consumer. If so, let's grasp Christ's invitation for freedom together. During thanksgiving, let's truly bask in the contentment of all of the good things that Christ has blessed us with - both spiritually and physically. During Christmas, let's free ourselves from the claustrophobic trap of wanting more. Let's instead, resolve to give, more than we have ever before, and let's do so freely and generously. And as we prepare for a new year, let's even sit down with our budgets, and let's move things around so that we are more free to bless others in 2023.
And after we do all of that, let's share with one another our thoughts on if Jesus was correct when he said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."