I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
Remember The Words Of Jesus
When the apostle John completed his narrative of the life of Jesus, he acknowledged there were many things Jesus said and did that are not written down. John further suggested that if these matters were written down one by one the world could not contain them all. His fellow gospel writer, Luke, included one small grain of that knowledge when he wrote his treatise to Theophilus about the acts of the early apostles. Paul is meeting with the shepherds from Ephesus in a very emotional and heartfelt goodbye when he quotes a statement of Jesus that is not recorded in any of the four gospels preserved through the centuries. This quiet statement injected by Paul to the elders tells us many things about Jesus.
There are volumes of unsaid teachings of Jesus not preserved by the Father. The ministry of Jesus lasted less than three years but His life, His teaching and the evidence of His power would fill the universe. John acknowledged there was so much more to be included in the story of Jesus. Many more men that are inspired wrote down riveting accounts of the life of the man from Nazareth. As the disciples spread throughout the world, men led by the Holy Spirit told the story to hungry souls of the wonderful message of Jesus Christ. Thousands came to Christ as the power of God worked in the hearts of men. What is contained in the four gospels is all that is preserved because these words form the basis of believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. If a man can read the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and fail to come to believe Jesus is the Son of God, no other accounts would convince him. There are those who seek after the lost books of the Bible as if there is some other revelation that will help them believe what God has written down. The reality is if more books were revealed to men they would believe less than what they believe now. All truth has been delivered and there will be no more books.
Paul’s statement about what Jesus said proves the validity of scripture as inspired by the Holy Spirit. During the ministry of Jesus, Paul was known as Saul of Tarsus. He was not a believer in the man from Nazareth and would begin a campaign of intense persecution against all those who were of the Way. The early church was impacted by the zeal of Saul and became the first major opposition for the church. Saul would not have been a student of Jesus. Quoting a passage from the lips of Jesus came straight from the mind of God. He was led by the Holy Spirit as he taught the message of salvation through the blood of Christ. This is an example of the purest form of inspiration. He quoted something not found in the four gospels.
The final lesson about what Paul said is what the apostle meant when he quoted the Lord. He had spent three wonderful years with the church in Ephesus. The elders were very dear to him. He knew he was beginning a journey that would make impossible his seeing his dear friends again. The elders from Ephesus were godly men that the preacher had enjoyed a close relationship. Paul had labored with the church at Ephesus with a servant’s heart. He was not there to show himself proud of his apostleship but as an example of a humble spirit in serving the church. It was clear the relationship he had with the Ephesians was one of giving. He labored for them in the cause of Christ. This spirit must manifest all who preach the gospel. It is not about the part of receiving that glorifies a man’s work but the heart given to the glory of God in the local work. Paul was the one blessed by the brethren at Ephesus.
Having a spirit of Paul is vital for our Christian life. So much of the world is about the ‘me factor’ and how can ‘I’ be happy. Jesus taught His disciples to follow His example. Who better can show the meaning of these wonderful words of giving than the one who gave His all for men? Jesus said it is better to give than receive and that is what He did on the cross. It is better for me to give than to expect something from everyone else. Our lives should be servant-filled expressions of sacrifice for others because it is truly a blessing to give than receive. Jesus said that.