You have likely heard it at a birthday gathering or around the Christmas tree: “I can’t wait for you to open my gift for you — I just love giving presents!”
The speaker might even invoke the saying of Christ, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). And while that verse may legitimately be used to express our joy in giving gifts, Paul’s use of Jesus’ words is much broader and more significant than that use. Notice the kinds of ways that Paul illustrates the priority of giving in this chapter.
- Giving includes humble service of others — even when that service includes trials (v. 19).
- Giving includes bold preaching and teaching — even truths that are “hard” (vv. 20, 27).
- Giving includes clear gospel proclamation (v. 21).
- Giving includes a willing sacrifice of one’s life (vv. 22-24).
- Giving includes hard work and financial sacrifice, even when one might be entitled to easier circumstances through the provision of others (vv. 33-35).
Yes, it is joyous to give gifts at celebratory events, but it is also more blessed to serve others in difficulty, preach accurately and boldly when the hearers might want their ears tickled, and sacrificing oneself even to the point of persecution and death. This kind of giving is to be preferred over even a life of ease through the service of others to us.