“…remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
From Paul’s example of giving we can learn three important lessons:
1) Giving Demonstrates a Freedom from Covetousness
“I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing.” (Acts 20:33)
The sin of coveting is found throughout the Bible. It was this sin that caused Achan to take a forbidden object from the city of Jericho when the Israelites had been told to destroy it. (see Joshua 7) It was this sin that kept the rich young ruler from following Jesus. (see Matthew 19) And it was this sin that led Ananias and Sapphira to lie about their charitable giving. (see Acts 5) Therefore, in order to overcome the sin of coveting, the Apostle Paul made it a point to give.
2) Giving Demonstrates Servanthood
“You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.” (Acts 20:34)
A popular term often used today is the term ‘entitlement.’ Many live by looking for the next handout. Yet Paul had a very different view of life and the importance of honest labor. “…these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.” Paul believed that it was more blessed to give than to receive and thus he labored in order that he might have something to give to others.
3) Giving Demonstrates Christ-like Love
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak … When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him.” (Acts 20:35-37)
The Bible says that there were many tears and hugs as Paul prepared to leave Ephesus. No doubt many of the Ephesian believers remembered the lessons Paul had taught them about Christ and His love for humanity. Perhaps some also remember the ways Paul had demonstrated this love through his own actions.