I heard a wise man once say, You show me someone wrapped up in themselves and I will show you a pretty small package. In Acts 20:35 Paul is concluding his message to the Ephesian elders, after which he will depart for Jerusalem and never see them again. His final message, or rather the final point in his message, is taken straight from the mouth of the Master. He wanted them to know that the road of blessing is paved with generosity. In one sense he wanted them to guard their hearts against a selfish me-centered approach to life. While these words of Jesus are not recorded in the Gospels and Paul probably received it by oral tradition, the substance of his testimony screams down through the ages that He came to give himself so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9). We give because we have been made rich in Christ Jesus. If grace cannot be tangibly seen then the act of giving must be recognized as the irrefutable fruit of a life that has experienced grace. The opposite must therefore also be true, if one doesnt give, has that person really been saved? Additionally Paul is not saying that those who receive are not also blessed. Rather the emphasis is on giving, which makes perfect sense considering his audience is church leaders.
It is impossible to have an over-emphasized focus on your own needs when you are focused on the needs of others. I hesitate to even say, give to be blessed because such a statement seems to reduce grace to something cheap that can be manipulatedgive God works and He will give you a prize. Instead let the application of the words of Jesus be understood this way: give because you have been blessed and in so doing you experience the joy and satisfaction of honoring Jesuswhich is itself an immeasurable blessing.
By Brent Crowe (Follow Brent on Twitter)