by Tony Nester

It Is More Blessed to Give Than to Receive
Tony R. Nester
Acts 20:35

There's an old story about a preacher who stood in his pulpit and thundered out to his congregation, "Someday every member of this church will die!" There was a hush as people took his sobering words to heart. Except for one man who burst out laughing. When the person next to him asked the reason for his laughter he explained: "I don't belong to this church."

Silly man! We can laugh at his naivete but he gives me the chance to ask you a serious question. What would you say to this church today if you knew you were soon to die and would never see us again, this side of heaven? What might you include in your last words to us?

You might be surprised to learn that our Scripture today comes from just such a circumstance. Many of us have heard these words of Jesus but never placed them in their Biblical context.

Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." But what's the context?

Well, to begin with, you won't find these words of Jesus in any of the four Gospels. The only place they show up are in today's Scripture from the Book of Acts. The Apostle Paul is the one who reports these words of Jesus to us. And he offers these words of our Lord at the end of a speech he gives to beloved Christian friends whom he believes he will never see again.

Look at verse 17. It mentions the City of Miletus. Paul is on a lay-over there en route to Jerusalem. He's traveling by ship and his ship has docked in Miletus for a three day's business in the City. Not far from Miletus is Ephesus where Paul spent years ministering to the Ephesian Church. He sends word and asks for leaders and members of the Ephesian Church to come to Miletus so that he might have a chance to speak to them one last time.

Paul is on his way to Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit is leading him there. Paul doesn't know exactly what's going to happen, but each day the Spirit confirms the suspicion that h ...

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