When you want to find something that Jesus said during his public ministry, you go to the four Gospels, right? Right. But there’s something He said that isn’t found in the four Gospels. You will find it in the Acts of the Apostles (and I don’t mean Jesus’ short pre-Ascension speech in the beginning). It was something
Jesus was in the habit of bestowing blessings, and of telling us what makes for the blessed life. He gave us the beatitudes. He told
It is true that we cannot give what we do not have, but maybe we’re not sufficiently aware of how much we have. We are already much better off (at least materially) than most of the world. “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John ). We have received the Holy Spirit and many gifts, so now what is our calling? “Freely have you received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). Jesus, the “Man for others,” has given us the example through his life, and especially the sacrifice thereof. He shows us how it is more blessed to give.
Because of original sin, we are all basically selfish. We want to know: what’s in it for me, how I can benefit or get some advantage in any given situation, how does every circumstance or relationship affect me, I’m taking care of my interests, needs, desires before those of others. It is said that the theme song of Hell is “I Did it My Way,” and such is only the ultimate and logical conclusion to a life of selfishness.
Jesus says that the blessing is in the giving. Sometimes we do experience that blessing since, if we are at least trying to follow Christ, we will do good for others from time to time, even at some personal cost. But we are called to a blessed life, not merely to a few piecemeal acts of charity by which we reassure ourselves that we are still Christians.
The paradox in all this is that if we seek only to receive, we will never be satisfied, and we will end up destroying our souls, even depriving them ultimately of the very capacity for happiness. But if we seek to give, seek first the
The life of a blessed giver (and a cheerful one, adds
No one gives what he does not have? True enough, but in the end no one will have if he does not give. The Greek makarios is translated as both “blessed” and “happy.” You will be both by following the word and example of your Lord Jesus.