The Gift and the GiverBro. David Chancellor
12/19/2010 11:00 AM
And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
This is the gospel according to Paul. He didn’t walk with Jesus before Jesus went to the cross. He hadn’t been a disciple and he persecuted the church. After he turned to God through Christ, he quotes Jesus when he was speaking to these at Ephesus. How he got these words, we don’t know, since they aren’t recorded in the gospels. Jesus lived it, though, and the people knew this saying of Jesus. Jesus did tell his disciples, "Freely you have received, freely give."
Jesus has given us much, to share. Jesus gave himself. God gave us Jesus.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God gave first. He gave us many things and we turned away. God has given us back, through Jesus, what was thrown away.
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
Luke traveled with Paul and he may have shared that saying with him. The shepherds found out about God’s gift the night Jesus arrived. The angels proclaimed the good news for everyone. It was God’s gift to mankind.
It’s appropriate that the announcement was to the shepherds; they could go to the stable and be right at home in the presence of God. It was given humbly, but it was the greatest gift ever given. The gift came with an angelic chorus. The hallelujah chorus of Revelation is like it.
The shepherds were some of the first to know, and they went to share his story. When Jesus began to teach, the people knew something was going on. Jesus still offers the gift to mankind – life in Christ.
2 Corinthians 8:9
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
Not only did God give, but Christ also gave. When Jesus said it was more blessed to give, he spoke from experience. He left the throne of glory to come and live among man. He left heaven to live among the poor of the world. He came to give us more abundant life.
He didn’t have stuff and depended on others to provide for him, but he gave and gave and gave. Christ lived out that it is more blessed to give than receive. For our sakes he became poor to show us that there is real blessing in giving. There is real blessing in giving your life to God and living according to his purpose and plan for you.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
Jesus was in heaven and King of kings, but he became like us and came as a baby, helpless, except that he had God. He lived humbly, died on the cross and rose again. God has exalted him. His kingdom is in all the earth. Jesus came and showed us what a life of service and sacrifice is all about. It is truly more blessed to give than receive. We can bless others (2 Corinthians 9, especially verse 15). God’s gift causes reconciliation between man and God and toward our fellowman. It helps us live in harmony here, too.