More blessed to give than receive

I just received a letter and picture for the fridge from one of the kids we sponsor through Compassion UK. Tucked away between the prayers for us and news of football games was this – ‘please read Acts 20:35’

Not a verse I know by heart – I looked it up. And then I found I did know it:

…remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

I once heard of a Bishop who preached, “Jesus said – and I think he was right…’

Well, I know he’s right!

The apostle Paul knew that too and recalls in this passage words spoken by Jesus which are not recorded in any of the gospels; words that shaped the early church’s thought and practice – and helped it make such an impact! It was said of the early Christians, “They share their food but not their beds.” They were sexually pure but promiscuous in generosity!  They lived like that because they had their eyes on another destination.

Jesus said, “Store up treasures in heaven . . .” Why? Because it’s wise! Because whatever we have given to help the poor or invested in building God’s kingdom will last. It won’t be consumed by moths and rust and thieves.  But you’ll never see a hearse pulling a trailer. 

A friend of mine is an independent financial adviser. He says, “When it come to your money don’t just think just 3 days ahead, or 3 months or 3 years. Think 30 years.” Jesus Christ says, “Don’t just ask, how will this investment be paying off in thirty years. Ask, how will this investment be paying off in thirty million years?”

C. T. Studd left being England cricket captain to reach out to needy people in the mission field he famously said this…“One short life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

I have some bad news. I have a terminal disease! I’m going to die!

Even worse news? You have the same disease! You’re going to die too!

The disease is called mortality. One day, sooner than any of us would like to  think, we’ll each stand before our Lord, the Audience of One. He’ll call us to account for how we’ve stewarded our lives and our resources here.

If your treasures are in heaven….good news. Heaven is coming! All Hell can’t going to stop it. Anything you’ve put in God’s hands – for his work-  is safe. Anything you haven’t – isn’t going to last.

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” He’s saying, “Show me your chequebook and bank statement, I’ll show you where your heart is. Your heart follows your money.”

Want a heart for Pork Bellies? Put your money there! Want a heart for Tesco? Buy shares! Want a heart for God? A heart for what matters most to Him? A heart bigger than your next acquisition? Put your treasures where God is at work! Want a heart for your church? Invest your money in your church’s ministry. Then, put your treasures in mission work – reaching the poor. Want a heart for street kids? Invest… every day there are opportunities to buy up more shares in God’s kingdom!

Five minutes after we die, we’ll know exactly how we should have lived. But then it’ll be too late to go back and change anything! God has given us his Word so we don’t have to wait until we die to know how we should have lived. There’s no second chance for the unbeliever – AND no second chance for the believer!

You and I have one short life on earth to invest in heaven. Let’s not miss the opportunity! Here’s a great prayer: May what will be most important to me five minutes after I die, become most important to me now.

Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, made his fortune by inventing dynamite and other powerful explosives. When Nobel’s younger brother died in an experiment, a newspaper accidentally printed his obituary instead. He was described as a man who became rich from enabling people to kill each other. Shaken by this assessment, Nobel wrote a will which resolved to use his fortune to reward accomplishments that benefited humanity, including what we now know as the Nobel Peace Prize.

Nobel had a rare opportunity – to look at the assessment of his life at its end, while he still had time to change it. While we live on earth – God is so gracious- it’s the land of second chances.

Put yourself in Nobel’s place. Read your own obituary, not as written by uniformed or biased people, but as an onlooking angel might write it from heaven’s point of view. Look at it carefully. Then let’s use the rest of our lives to edit that obituary into what we really want it to be.

To live each day with the knowledge that every moment we get closer to death, we get closer to our treasures – rather than further from them.