“And to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Where or when the Lord may have said these words we cannot tell, as they are not to be found, specifically, in any of the four gospels, wherein His blessed sayings are recorded; but that He did actually use them we may gather from the above statement of the apostle Paul in his address to the Ephesian elders.
In point of fact he calls upon them to remember the words! They must, therefore, have been familiar. It was, no doubt, a sentence known and loved by these early Christians; and perhaps it had assumed a kind of proverbial form in their minds.
Of such a form it was fully worthy. In it we find the principle of the whole life of Jesus. We read that “He gave Himself.” He was the voluntary burnt-offering that ascended as a sweet savour from the altar of absolute consecration. His wondrous self-surrender knew no bounds nor measure. Each step He took from the glory to the manger, and then onward to the cross, was but an ever-deepening evidence of the completeness of His “devotion to God and love to man.” “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:6-8).
What a summary of that giving life do these inspired words supply. Now, in the form of God, then suffering death, the death of the cross! And He this same blessed Person in each case, though in circumstances how widely diverse. This is the mind that was in Christ Jesus. Let us ponder and meditate thereon. We learn the free and hearty giving of Himself—Himself! True, He left the glory, He refused each earthly dignity, and place, and honour, but besides that which was negative, He accepted the hatred and scorn of man, and He bore the judgment of God against sin—He gave Himself! He found amid all the sorrow and anguish of His path the supreme blessedness of being a giver!
And Calvary witnessed that act in its infinite fullness. There He laid down His life, there He cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” There in the silence of that awful solitude, unrelieved by one single ray of comfort, or sustainment from that God, whose favour was better than life, but whose holiness was intolerant of sin, there as “made sin for us” (blessed Saviour), He went every length in the path of giving. He withheld naught that He had or was. And He it was who, in such appreciative grace, could applaud the poor widow, who had given, as He said, “all her living.” Wonderful! But is He to be second in the path of self-surrender? He did not only that, but He gave His life as well. Munificent Donor, Thy Name shall head the list of all benefactors!
David may have given his thousands of millions toward the construction of the temple, but Thou, for the salvation of the church, hast given that which could be measured by no amount of gold! “Hereby perceive we LOVE, because he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). May the mind that was in Christ Jesus be also in us.