The Ninth Beatitude

Bible Book: Acts  20 : 35
Subject: Stewardship; Giving

Generally, when we think of the beatitudes we think of those eight pronouncements that Jesus made in The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:3-10. But I want to speak to us this morning about still another beatitude - the ninth one. It is not found in the gospels, but is recorded in Acts 20:35. The apostle Paul, in the course of his farewell address to his friends in Ephesus, said, “I have showed you all things, how that so laboring 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.” Apparently the Ephesian Christians were already familiar with this saying - but Paul exhorts them to keep it in mind, to never lose sight of it.

The Bible is God’s Word not only to people of the past, but to people of all generations. So, it is to you and me, as well as to those first century believers, that these words of our Lord are directed: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” To help us understand this ninth beatitude, so as to respond to it as we should, I want to raise three questions about it and give the Biblical answer to each question.


When we look at this ninth beatitude in light of what the rest of the Bible says on the subject of giving, we see that two things should be understood as to WHEN it is more blessed to give than to receive. Each of these two things is either implied or plainly stated.

A. It is more blessed to give than to receive when we have the option of doing either

When we have the option of either giving or receiving--and I say that because the Bible makes it clear that in some cases our only option is to receive--and in those cases, receiving is a blessing.

1. That is most certainly true in the area of salvation and the gifts which accompany salvation.

a. We are all sinners; the wages of sin is death--and the only way to be forgiven of our sins, have newness of life, and go to heaven instead of hell, is to receive God’s gift of eternal life--and we receive that gift by repenting of our sins and surrendering in faith to the crucified, risen, living, coming again Son of God.

In Matthew 10:15 is recorded these words of Jesus: “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” In John 1:11-12 we read: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Acts 10:43: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”

b. Once we have been saved, we are responsible for sharing our faith with others. But for our testimony to be effective, we need spiritual power--and there’s only one way to have that spiritual power. We can’t “work it up.” All we can do is ask God for it, and thus receive it. In Acts 1:8 the resurrected Christ, immediately prior to his ascension back into heaven, said to his disciples: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

c. God promises rewards to believers who fight the good fight and serve him faithfully - and obviously the only way we can have those rewards is to receive them. In 1 Corinthians 3 the apostle Paul compared living the Christian life to erecting a building, and in verse 14 he said, “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” Colossians 3:23-24: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”

In James 1:12 we read: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”

2. It is also true that our only option is to receive when it comes to physical health. God expects us to cooperate with him, of course, and to follow common sense rules of well-being; but in the final analysis, we are utterly dependent upon him for life and breath and strength.

Indeed, as 1 Corinthians 4:7 asks, “...what hast thou that you didst not receive?”--and the answer is, nothing. In the ultimate sense, every worthwhile thing we have ever had has been received from the hand of God. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” 1 Timothy 6:17 speaks of “the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.”

3. There are also times when God would have us receive his blessings by the hands of other people, whom he uses as his instruments. An example is the time the apostle Paul was in prison, and was dependent on his friends to meet his material needs. He wrote, in Philippians 4:14-18:

Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you....”

He goes on, then, in that same verse, to characterize the gifts he had received from them as “ odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.”

Sometimes life takes some unexpected turns, and any of us could find ourselves in a position of dire need--and when that happens, God intends that we receive the help that he sends through our friends, just as we would go to their aid if the tables were turned. So, if you’re hurting, if your back is to the wall - don’t hesitate to let your fellow believers help you - because that is God working through them.

So, there are times when our only option is to receive--but when we have either option, it is more blessed to give than to receive.

B. It is more blessed to give than to receive when we give in the right spirit, and for the right motive.

1. We are to give generously. 2 Corinthians 9:6: “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.”

In Luke 6:38 Jesus said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

2. We are to give willingly and gladly. 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

3. We are to give lovingly. In 1 Corinthians 13:3 Paul said, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity [love], it profiteth me nothing.”


A. It is more Christ-Like.

God’s ultimate goal for all of us is that we be saved and then become increasingly more like Jesus. In Romans 8:29 we read that “whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son....” In Matthew 20:28 Jesus was emphasizing the importance of a servant attitude, and in the course of his remarks he also made a point about giving: “For as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “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.” In John 10:17-18 Jesus said, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again....” Jesus had the option of giving his life or not giving it, but he chose to give his life, that you and I might be saved.

So, when you and I have the option of giving or not giving and we choose to give, to that extent we’re behaving in a Christ-like manner.

B. It brings more joy

In that same connection, it is more blessed to give than to receive because giving brings more joy than receiving brings.

Jesus certainly experienced sorrows and suffering, but he also was a joyful person. He often spoke of his joy. In John 15:11 Jesus said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” In John 17:13, as he prayed to the Heavenly Father, he said, “And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” As the author of Hebrews 12 admonished us to run with patience the race of life, he said, in verse 2, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So, Jesus’ joy resulted from giving himself for the redemption of others. You and I can’t redeem anyone, of course, but we can give of ourselves in service to others in the name of Christ, and thereby experience Christ-like joy.

In the land of Israel there are two bodies of water which are similar in one way, but otherwise strikingly different. I’m referring to The Sea of Galilee and The Dead Sea. What is called The Sea of Galilee is a actually a huge fresh-water lake, located in the northern part of the country. It is fed chiefly by the Jordan River, which originates in the foothills of the Lebanon Mountains. But not only does the Sea of Galilee receive an enormous inflow from the Jordan River, it also has an enormous outflow as the Jordan River continues its southward course. The Sea of Galilee is a beautiful, sparkling body of water, abounding with marine life. Multitudes of fisherman make their living from those waters, as the Jordan flows in on the north and out on the south.

By contrast, in the southern part of the country is the Dead Sea, probably the strangest body of water in the world. Its main source of inflow is also the Jordan River, and it receives approximately six and one-half million tons of water every twenty-four hours. But there is no outlet, and thus the valley below it is dry and barren. The surface of the Dead Sea is almost 1,300 feet below actual sea level, and that causes acidity in the water. Because of the extreme heat an astonishing amount of evaporation takes place, so that the level of the water changes very little. The water contains heavy mineral deposits - mostly salt. It is about six times saltier than the oceans. It has an oily, bitter taste and a brackish appearance, and leaves a yellow stain. It has an unpleasant odor. No flowers bloom, and no fruits grow on its salt-encrusted shores. The Dead Sea is the very picture of desolation, barrenness and gloom - and all because it receives inflow, but has no outflow.

In like manner, an individual who receives much but gives little or none is spiritually and morally stagnated. There is no joy, no sparkle, no freshness to his life. Dr. Alfred Adler, a renowned Austrian psychologist who died in 1937, contended that “all the ills of the human personality can be traced back to one thing: not understanding the meaning of ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”


A. This applies to Material Things

For one thing, this beatitude applies to material things. Look again at the Scripture text: Paul said to the Ephesians, “I have showed you all things, how that so laboring 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.”

1. We have no obligation to give to those who are lazy, or squander their resources and then depend on others to “bail them out.” But it is our obligation--and more than that, it’s our privilege--to help those who are down-and-out because of health problems or other unusual trials and tribulations. That would include those who, in this down economy, are sincerely, even desperately, looking for work but can’t find it.

The late W. A. Criswell told of hearing the world-famous violinist, Fritz Kreisler, in a concert. He was thrilled to hear him play--but then years later he learned something about Fritz Kreisler which thrilled him even more than the man’s music. He read this testimony by the great violinist:

I was born with music in my soul. I knew musical scores intuitively before I knew my ABCs. It was a gift of God. I did not acquire it. So I do not even deserve thanks for music. Music is too sacred to be sold. I never look upon money that I earn as my own. It is only a fund entrusted to my care for proper distribution. I am constantly endeavoring to reduce my needs to the minimum. I feel morally guilty in ordering a costly meal, for it deprives someone else of a slice of bread - some child, perhaps, of a bottle of milk....In all these years of my so-called success in music, we have not built a home for ourselves. Between it and us stand all the homeless in the world!

Can you imagine that? What sacrificial giving. The Lord may not lead everyone to go to that extreme--but the Lord certainly does call each of us to give unstintingly and sacrificially.

2. We are also to give of our material resources through the church. The tithe is the Lord’s, so we’re not really “giving” until we go above and beyond the tithe. Each of us should pray earnestly for God’s leadership as to how much he would have us give, when it comes to special emphases such as the Lottie Moon Offering for Foreign Missions. We should give liberally. In Matthew 10:8 Jesus said, “...freely ye have received, freely give.”

The late R. G. Lee told about an individual who was complaining about all the offerings that the church took, and all of the emphasis on giving. He felt that the church was trying to do too many things and support too many causes. He said, “Our church costs too much. I‘m getting sick and tired of it.”

One of his fellow church members spoke up and said, “I want to tell you a story out of my own life. Some time ago a baby boy came into my house and from the time he was born he cost me....I had to buy food, clothing, medicine, and after a while toys and a puppy dog. When he started to school, he cost me more. And when he went to college they were still greater, and later he began to go out with girls and you know how much that costs. Then in his senior year he died suddenly, and since then has not cost me a cent.”

If you and I want our church to be active and alive, it’s certainly going to take a lot more than money--but, nonetheless, faithful giving is at least one of the essentials, along with all of the other weightier requirements.

B. This applies to Non-material Possessions

But the principle that it is more blessed to give than to receive applies not only to material possessions--it also applies to non-material possessions.

In Acts 3:2-3 we read: “And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.” Now, verse 6:

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

Obviously, God has not bestowed on all of us the gift of miracles - that is, the ability to lead others to believe to the point that God miraculously heals them. But, if our hearts are devoted to Christ, God will use whatever we do have to give as a means of enriching the lives of others - and there is no greater joy than knowing that you’ve helped lift someone else‘s load, or at least made his burden easier to bear. We all can give words of encouragement, or a warm handshake, or some of our time - there are numerous ways that any of us, and all of us, can give to others - and thereby we are also giving to the Lord.

In Matthew 25 Jesus tells us that one day he will come again and will gather before him all nations, and will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. In regard to those who are saved, he speaks of some ways that they expressed their devotion to him during their earthly life. He speaks of their having given meat to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, comfort to the sick, and encouragement to those in prison - and he says, in verse 40: “...Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

But how do you get started toward being the kind of giver that is a blessing to others, and who is blessed by God in return? In 2 Corinthians 8 the apostle Paul strongly commended his friends in Macedonia for their great generosity - and then he explained how they became such great givers. He said in verse 5 that they “first gave their own selves to the Lord.” That’s where it has to start.


Herschel H. Hobbs told about a certain little girl who was crippled, and confined to home. Her mother was a woman of wealth who liked to travel; indeed, she was rarely ever at home. However, she always made it a point while away on a trip to send her little crippled daughter some expensive gift.

One day while the mother was on an extended trip, the little girl received in the mail a lovely, expensive vase, with a card attached that read: “Love, Mother.” Upon reading the card, the little girl laid the vase aside, buried her face in her hands, and began sobbing her little heart out, saying, “Mother, oh, Mother; don’t send me any more vases, or books, or candy, or flowers; Mother, I want you...I want you!”

That’s what God wants this morning--he wants you. Here is his great invitation in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

To take upon yourself the “yoke of Christ” means, first, to repent of your sins and commit yourself to him in faith--believing that he died for your sins and rose again and lives today to save and sustain; and to take upon yourself his yoke means, secondly, to put your talents, time, influence, and material possessions completely at his disposal.

And the result is assured: “ye shall find rest for your souls.” The word “easy” means “well-fitting.” We were created for the purpose of having fellowship with him, and the “burden” of servitude to him is “light” in the sense that he is a loving, gracious Master who seeks only our good. To come to Jesus is the best, wisest decision any person can ever make.