The scriptures are filled with Bible stories about helping others, and these stories are meant to inspire us in our own journeys as we work to have a giving heart and be more like Jesus. One of the most fascinating proclamations from Christ is delivered in Acts 20.
What sets this proclamation about having a giving heart apart is that it is delivered by Paul, as he is recounting a lesson from Jesus -- a quote that drives home the point that it is better to give than to receive. The specific verse is Acts 20:35 (read more of Acts 20 on Biblica):
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
So, what does Acts 20:35 teach us about having a giving heart? Here are some important lessons surrounding why it is better to give than to receive:
There Are Many Bible Stories About Helping Others
“The righteous give without sparing.” - Proverbs 21:26 (NIV)
Paul makes it clear that Jesus wants us to have a giving heart. The Bible is filled with stories about why it is better to give than to receive, and Jesus himself drives this point home in the gospel.
Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV) is of the most interesting areas of scripture where we see the importance of Bible stories about helping others:
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
The fact that there are so many Bible stories about helping others and having a giving heart simply drives home the point that it is better to give than to receive. But beyond that, giving is evidence that faith has taken root in our hearts, and it holds the power to transform us.
Having a Giving Heart Teaches Humility
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” - 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)
When we give, we have the opportunity to experience true humility. It’s easy to go through life and think that we have a giving heart, but it’s another thing entirely to live out Bible stories about helping others that we see in scripture.
It is when we take the time to embrace the idea that it is better to give than to receive that we truly see how much others struggle, how much they need and, in turn, how much we have. It is truly humbling when we have the chance to see, through having a giving heart, how much other people around us struggle with meeting their very basic needs.
This can manifest itself in humility and a greater recognition of the needs of others. This is just one reason why it is very clearly better to give than to receive.
READ ALSO: How to Teach Your Child to be Charitable
Having a Giving Heart Teaches Gratitude
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” - Proverbs 11:25 (NIV)
In turn, Bible stories about helping others and living out the command to have a giving heart can truly help guide us to see all we have in our own lives. Humility is important, but gratitude is also an essential element to living out our Christian faith.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling frustrated or irritated with the little things we face. Many times we live amazing lives with all of our needs being met. But when we encounter people who struggle to find food, housing or basic goods, everything else gets put into perspective.
When we learn that it is better to give than to receive, we can see through clearer lenses the needs of others as well as the blessings we have in our own lives.
We Were Built to Have a Giving Heart
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” - Luke 6:38 (NIV)
Culture and the world around us encourage us to living “bigger and better” lives, but the measuring sticks for what this looks like fly in the face of the “it is better to give than to receive” mantra. Rather than leading with a giving heart, culture many times encourages selfish ambition.
Bible verses about helping others, though, teach us that we were built to serve. Jesus makes this very clear in Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV) when he is asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Christ’s response tells us it is better to give than to receive (verses 37-40):
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Clearly, we were built to “love God and love others.” Living with selflessness is essential, and having a giving heart is an important part of living out this reality.
Want more inspiration about the importance of giving? Check out this powerful list of Bible verses that explain why it is better to give than to receive, and be sure to check out these tips for teaching your kids to be charitable.