A Thanksgiving Beatitude
By: Mike Stokes
There is a famous and precious statement from the Lord’s lips that was almost forgotten by everyone including Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. For some reason, those Gospel writers left it out; but years later when the Apostle Paul was speaking to leaders of the Ephesian Church in Acts 20, he quoted this precious sentence, Paul is on his way to Jerusalem to deliver an offering that had been received for the church there. We break into Paul’s comments and find the statement in V35 ‘…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, when he said: it is more blessed to give than to receive.’ This is a stunning revelation, Paul implies Jesus spoke a well known sentence, yet none of the Gospel writers included it in their writings. We don’t know when or where Jesus spoke these words. We don’t know the setting or the context or the audience to whom they were first given. The Holy Spirit took this one statement and consigned it to the ministry of Paul and the record of the book of Acts. So, we have a wonderful addendum to the teaching ministry of Christ. We could call this the obscure, or, almost forgotten Beatitude.
A Beatitude is a sentence in the Bible that begins with the word “Blessed.” In fact, the word blessed occurs 42 times in the Gospels. By reading this sentence carefully, we can see that Jesus was really describing two great blessings in life. He was talking about giving and he was talking about receiving. He does not indicate that one is a curse and the other a blessing. He indicates that both are blessings, but one is a greater blessing than the other. He was comparing two different blessings. Which I will briefly focus on:
The Blessing of Receiving
That, I guess, is our primary job in life, it is what we do best. God created us as recipients. He is the source. He is the God of Grace, and from a fulness of His Grace we have all received one blessing after another. The gifts come to us in different and various forms. There are universal blessings; He causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike. The Lord also gives us daily blessings; he meets our needs. The Lord also gives us spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:13). Most of all He gives us eternal blessings (John 3:16). There is a beautiful hymn entitled “Count Your Blessings” by Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1897, the chorus begins ‘Count your blessings name them one by one,’ bet you cant. What could possibly be more blessed? Only one thing, Jesus said, it is more blessed to give than to receive.
The Blessing of Giving
Why is it more blessed to give than to receive? Well, maybe the biggest reason for this is that when we receive, we are acting like ourselves, but when we give, we are acting like God. Having an attitude of giving allows us to move into the divine realm and do something that God delights to do. When you give a gift it is a token of your esteem and affection. God has blessed us with abundance, and from His hand we’ve received all we have. All He ask for is our hearts. Happy Thanksgiving.