I have showed you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus…
It is more blessed to give than to receive, because it is —
I. FAR HIGHER PRIVILEGE. To receive may be an advantage, but the very act implies dependence and want, and therefore is so far an irksome feeling. But to be so graciously advantaged by the Giver of all good that we can assume the attitude of bestowers, must at once be admitted to be far the most distinguished privilege.
II. MORE SAFE. To be a receiver of good is dangerous, because it is fitted to nourish that selfish yearning so innate in our souls. How many there are who, when they were poor and little exalted in this life, had a heart open to pity's call, and a hand stretched out at pity's claim; but just in proportion as they got more, they gave less, and, as "riches increased," they "set their hearts upon them." But giving has not this peril. It has, indeed, its attendant danger. Our giving, if it minister to self-complacency — if it lead us to put it in the stead of the free "gift of God," which "is eternal life by Christ Jesus" — it will do us sad harm, and our very acts of charity maybe converted into splendid sins. Nevertheless, there is in Christian giving far less danger than in receiving; there is something in the very exercise that is fitted to keep humble, because he is reminded, "Who maketh me to differ from another? and what have I, that I have not received?" And then how few comparatively injure their souls by giving, while many and mournful are the examples of those who injure their souls by getting!
III. HAPPIER. There is a pain too often in reception from man, and it requires a very lowly and submissive mind in a rightly constituted poor man to be a dependent upon the kindness of others. And whatever pleasure there may be in gratitude, there is far more pleasure in benevolence. God hath so made us, that our duty is our happiness; and those dispositions which are most pleasing in His sight are most pleasurable in themselves. There is a pleasure that the mother feels in feeding, etc., her child; and in the patriot, whose heart is most passionately attached to his country. And does not this show us that if even the natural exercises of the communicating spirit be its pleasures and its relish, how much more when it is baptized by the Spirit of God, and when it assumes its proper purpose — to glorify God and benefit His creatures! Then, indeed, in giving we get.
IV. MORE GODLIKE. "God is love." And what does His love delight in? Communicating its own beneficence to all. And that goodness hath shown itself infinitely more than all, in that God "spared not His own Son," etc., and "how shall He not with Him also freely give all things" to them that are Christ's? And shall we not contemplate the Godlike character of the spirit of benevolence, as it is manifested in God incarnate? Oh! then, would we be "imitators of God as dear children"? would we "put on the Lord Jesus Christ"? would we be like "our Father in heaven"? would we be "partakers of the Divine nature," and transformed into the Divine likeness? We must know and feel that "it is more blessed to give than to receive."
V. We argue the same blessed truth FROM THE APPROVAL AND COMPLACENCY WITH WHICH GOD REGARDS THE GIVER. The promises to the receiver are few and not so direct; but the promises to the giver are rich and manifold and animating. Conclusion:
1. What a fatal mistake are most making in the way they set about to be happy! To get more wealth, admiration, power, influence, indulgence. What a mistake! Take a selfish heart to heaven, if it were possible, and it would be miserable; take a generous heart to hell, if that were possible, and it would be happy there.
2. Then what a stupendous change must pass upon our fallen nature I No marvel that it should be called a new birth, a resurrection from the dead.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: In all things I gave you an example, that so laboring you ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"