“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Today’s passage offers something that we rarely see in the New Testament. Words of Christ that are not documented in any of the gospels themselves. Paul writes specifically, “words the Lord Jesus himself said…” Paul brings Christ’s words up to highlight the life to which he is committed. A life of hard work to help the weak (Acts 18:3). It can be odd to imagine Paul committed to physical labor in light of all of his other work for the sake of the church. Shouldn’t Paul be fully devoted to evangelism and teaching? Not busy making tents? We know that there have been parts of Paul’s life where he was supported by the church in Philippi (Philippians 1:3-5). But today’s passage also shows that Paul’s own hands supplied his needs and the needs of his companions.
This passage includes a truth that is widely known – “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We’ve seen this truth in many places that are not necessarily linked to Christ. Despite the popularity of this line its truth is really unconventional in a secular manner. In fact, it seems contradictory to the more normal “you gotta take care of yourself” mentality.
What’s wrong with that?
If you cannot predict what you will have tomorrow or the next day – should you be giving or taking care of others? Wouldn’t it be wiser to keep what you have to yourself in case you need it? Despite the pragmatic sense this survival mentality offers, people generally identify more with this passage’s truth – “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Painting in broad strokes people who live for self-satisfaction or personal gain often have a life full of broken relationships. Perhaps they have means, but no on to share them with. Selfish people are not often all that popular. (Unless they are reality TV stars, I suppose)
Paul, a great teacher, not only writes down his lessons, but he also uses his own life as an example. Let’s join with Paul’s example of working hard so that in our imitation of Christ (a fundamental Christian requirement) we can help the weak.