A Brief Meditation for the Month

November 2021

When Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, was taking his leave of the church in Ephesus, as recorded in the twentieth chapter of the book of Acts, he reminded those to whom he had been ministering for a period of three years, not only of what he had taught them but also of what he had shown them. He said, “I have shewed you all things,” verse 35. The apostle was claiming that he had practised among them what he had preached. He had been a role model to them. In verse 20 of the chapter, Paul said, “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house.” Paul taught with both lips and life. His life among the Ephesians was an illustration to them of how what he taught was to be practised.

One of the important lessons he taught the Ephesians originated with the Lord Jesus. He told them to remember “the words of the Lord Jesus.” For the apostle, this was truly important. They might forget some of the things Paul himself said, but they were obligated not to forget what the Saviour had said. The lesson for the Ephesians is one for all believers everywhere, in every generation. We may, on occasions, forget even important things communicated to us from our peers, but if we forget what the Lord Jesus says to us through the written word, we inevitably lose much. The Ephesians were to “remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive,” verse 35. Paul had been giving himself to the Ephesians for three years, and they had received the benefits that accrued from his giving. While the Ephesians had undoubtedly been blessed through the teaching and instruction they received from the apostle, Paul is claiming to be more blessed as the giver.

Receiving can be an enjoyable experience but the Lord Jesus, who gave himself one hundred per cent to save his people, says it is a blessed experience to be the giver. The apostle in his letter to Timothy classifies himself as the chief of sinners, 1Timothy 1:15. Yet, when writing to the Galatians, he refers to the “Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,” Galatians 2:20. In the gospel of John, we read the well-known words, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,” John 3:16. God gave his Son, and the Son gave himself: God is very obviously a God who delights to give. Since the word ‘blessed’ carries in it the meaning, ‘happy,’ it suggests that God’s giving for the salvation of sinners was motivated by love, which gave Him much joy and happiness. If we are the recipients of God’s saving mercy then, we can only marvel to think that such extensive divine giving was joyful, loving giving, to save wretched, totally unworthy sinners from condemnation and eternal ruin. Through Paul, the words of the Lord Jesus are not just divine truth, but words spoken from divine experience. Our Saviour’s joy in the reception of lost sinners is illustrated for us in the parable of the lost sheep in the fifteenth chapter of Luke’s gospel. The shepherd is depicted devotedly giving his time and energy until he finds the lost sheep, over which he rejoices when he finds it. Whatever little we can give in grateful return for what He has given ought to fill our hearts with joy. Even then, we can only give out of what He has given us. To give as much as a cup of cold water to a needy soul should be considered a joyful privilege and experience by the giver. If we appreciate how much we have because of Christ’s sacrificial giving for us, and to us, is there then anything we dare for any reason withhold from Him? Through his giving to us, He says, “give me thine heart,” Proverbs 23:26. Is that much to ask?

G. G. Hutton.