Acts 20:35: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

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.'" (Acts 20:35, NIV)

Because of the world's influence on us, sometimes Jesus' words can seem strange. Jesus' words, "It is more blessed to give than to receive," can seem strange. In the United States today people are much more interested in what they can get than what they can give. Jesus' words can sometimes seem beyond us as weak and imperfect individuals. However, as a boy I can remember the example of two less-than-perfect people. When my grandmother came to visit us, sometimes we would go to a drive-in to eat hamburgers for lunch while my father was still at work. My mother and grandmother would argue because each wanted to pay the bill. It seemed so insignificant then. I came to expect such from my mother and grandmother. After growing up, I then realized the significance how they lived.

In our society today we are obsessed with being treated fairly and protecting our rights. However, as Christians we should be more concerned that we have not treated someone else unfairly than how others treat us. We should be more concerned that we don't owe anyone else anything (Romans 13:8) than about whether someone owes us. Jesus also stated this in this way:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12, NIV)

As a boy growing up these words and Jesus' words to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:38-48; Luke 6:27-31) were very hard to understand, especially when other boys would beat you up even if you didn't fight back. It was especially this way growing up in Borger in the Panhandle of Texas within 35 years founding of the city. Borger started as an oilfield boomtown. The founder, Mr. Borger, was gunned down on Main Street. In the early days people stayed off the streets at night. It was not that way thirty years later, but the proud and tough attitude was still there with many, especially with the boys. The boys would continually pick on me in grade school until in the fourth grade, fearing for my life, I beat up a sixth grader who threw me down on the ground and started stomping on me. Afterwards, I never had any trouble in grade school.

There was something else happening in Borger that brought about change. At Calvary Baptist Church, we had an interim pastor, Dr. Carl Moore, who was already in his eighties. He had been one of the first preachers to come into Borger, back in the days when pastors were afraid to go there. By my time, there were a thriving number of churches in Borger. In junior high we didn't have to fight unless someone really wanted to fight. The main reason was that we would protect one another. This was by far a better way. When we defend ourselves, we can be very subjective and unfair.

Some of my best friends to prevent fights were black Christians. In junior high and high school there were too few blacks to have separate schools. They were already integrated before the government forced integration. Thus, when integration happened in the grade schools people didn't go around with a chip on their shoulder. One of the best athletes a year ahead of me was James Lee Robinson, the son of a black Methodist preacher. He lived an exemplary life as well as being a good athlete and was elected as Mr. Borger High by a student body that was well over 90% white.

It is easy to learn to be unselfish to family and friends. If we don't learn there, then we won't learn. However, Jesus taught a love that went beyond this. Jesus told us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). He told us to lend money to people who had no way of paying us back (Luke 6:32-36).

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