Can It Be Better to Receive… than Give?

The Christian is taught that it is better to give than to receive. In fact, the Apostle Paul spoke this teaching of Jesus to the elders of the church in Ephesus when he said in Acts 20:35, “…in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

This is a great verse that teaches Christians personal piety (that is, godliness) in service towards others. But that’s not the only thing this verse teaches. Personal piety can begin to think that “It is only blessed to give than to receive.” The Gospel of Jesus, however, centers on God giving forgiveness and eternal life through His Son Jesus. It is the Christian who receives God’s giving by faith. We confess in our liturgy that we are “poor, miserable sinners.” The word “poor” indicates that we have nothing to give God. We are spiritually poor! The entire Christian life in relationship to God, then, is confessing our spiritual poverty (sin) and receiving His gifts by faith alone. In terms of our relationship to God, it is actually better to receive than give.

This, by the way, is why worship services in the Lutheran Church are led by the Pastor. Worship services are intended to be a “Sabbath”, that is, a time of rest for the Christian. It is a time simply to come to Church and receive God’s gifts. Yes, we need Altar Guilds to set the Lord’s Table and Acolytes to light the candles before the service, Ushers to hand out bulletins, turn on the lights, and direct people to a seat in the pew, and Elders (or Deacons) to assist with the distri-bution of the Sacrament. It is a blessing to have an organist lead our singing and a choir to sing praises to God, etc., but all these services are subordinate to the invitation Christ gives to “Take, and eat, this is My body” and “Take and drink, this is My blood for the forgiveness of sins.” In worship, it is better to receive than give, for in worship it is Christ who first and foremost comes to serve us (Mark 10:45). This is why Martha gets gently rebuked for being “distracted with much serving” in Luke 10:40, whereas Jesus commends Mary for sitting at His feet, and listening to Him teach saying, “One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).

It is in response to God’s love and God’s service to us that the Christian gives to others. This is the context in which Paul quotes Jesus in Acts 20:35 that it is more blessed to give than to receive. In Christian giving, however, there is also Christian receiving, for someone must be on the receiving end of the giving! Yet sinful vices such as vanity and pride do not like to receive. Yes, the Christian should love to give, but the Christian also should love their neighbor as themselves. In receiving what others give, one is actually bringing them joy and encouraging those who love and want to give. Loving your neighbor as yourselves sometimes means letting them love you by receiving joyfully and thankfully what they joyfully and lovingly give you. That’s Christian receiving! (I’ll be the first to admit that I’m struggling to learn this now, as so many of you have graciously given to my family and I after the birth of our most recent baby with gifts and meals. Thank you for your giving; thank you for your love!)

So let us not take Jesus’ teaching out of context. Yes, it is more blessed to give than to receive in our service to others, but it is not only blessed to give than to receive. There is a godly time for receiving, too. It is better to learn this before you or I get to the age, time in life, or point of physical inability when all we can do is receive, such as many of shut-ins deal with on a daily basis. That is why the Gospel focuses on Jesus’ giving and not ours. For in heaven, I dare say none of us will tell Jesus, “No thank you” to whatever He offers. Let it not be so here on earth!

Your servant in Christ, Pastor Hromowyk


Sunday Worship Services - 8:00 A.M. and 10:30 A.M.
Compline Services, Wednesday's - 7:00 P.M.



8:00 A.M. First and Third Sundays

10:30 A.M. Second and Fourth Sundays

Fifth Sunday, Both Services

Special note to our visitors and guests: Because those who eat and drink our Lord’s body and blood unworthily do so to their great harm and because Holy Communion is a confession of the faith which is confessed at this altar, any who are not yet instructed, in doubt, or who hold a confession differing from that of this congregation and The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, are kindly asked to refrain from partaking of the Sacrament until first speaking with our Pastor.

Wednesday Night Service/Bible Study

The Wednesday Services will resume in April begining at 7:00 P.M. in the Sanctuary, followed by Bible Study in the Family Room. Private Confession and Absolution will be available from 6:15 P.M. - 6:45 P.M.  in Pastor Hromowyk's office.