When Receiving is Better than Giving

Better to give than receiveI hung out with a friend today. She’s a strong Christian who is serving God, but sometimes the enemy convinces her she’s not good enough. Some days she is completely in step with God, loves well and fulfills her purpose. Other days are a struggle. Today was one of those days, so we had a chat.

She’s a writer, but today she couldn’t find inspired words. She started four different posts and worked on them for hours but nothing flowed. So she closed her laptop and gave up. She had failed. She’d let God down.

I tried to encourage her, give her permission to take a guilt-free break from writing and wait for God to give the message. And I knew he would. I knew he would provide for her. I also knew only God could reassure her of his pleasure in her.

So I gave her the most understanding look I could, told her to wait for God’s inspiration, and I walked away from the mirror.

face to faceI tried to write an inspiring Seeds of Scripture post today and failed. I gave up. I knew you’d understand. Thank you.

Now let me share the rest of the story…

This evening while numbing disappointment in myself on Facebook, two posts caught my attention.

  • The first was a scripture that has been rolling around in my soul for several weeks. This was no coincidence.
  • The other was a story similar to the one I just told.

I never expected to find God’s inspiration on Facebook.

So here is your God-inspired Seed of Scripture:

Remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35

I learned this as a kid. It is better to give than to receive. It shaped my character and guided my generosity and volunteering. But it also damaged my relationship with God.

This is a case where context matters. Paul is bidding farewell to his friends in Ephesus where he spent two and a half years. Let’s look back a few verses:

I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 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.’ Acts 20:33-35

Paul reminds them that he contributed financially to the church community. He did his share. He wasn’t a burden to them when he was capable of supporting himself and giving generously to help others.

My childhood understanding of the verse, plucked out of context, was that it is always better to give than to receive.

This made receiving difficult and became a problem in my relationship with God. I kept giving but not receiving. I kept doing for God but didn’t receive his love. I needed to rest in his love for me and love him in return. I needed to make a full stop and receive. Just receive his love. Believe he could love me. And when I finally received his love, my relationship with God began and life became joyfully fulfilling.

Now I give in response to his love for me rather than trying to earn his love.

When I get wrapped up in the doing, when I feel like I’ve failed in my purpose, I remember to receive again. Let my mind absorb the fact that he died out of love for me. Let myself appreciate the grace he’s poured over me in wiping away and forgetting all my rebellion against him. Allow his Holy Spirit to transform my spirit. Remind myself of the wonderfully fulfilling life he has led me to.

Just receive God’s love and love him in return.

So when I faced writer’s block today God was not disappointed in me. And he provided when I stopped trying to write inspiring words in my own strength. Wait patiently for the Lord.

  • Have you ever felt like you’ve failed to please God?
  • Be assured that God accepts repentance and gives second, third, and a thousand new starts.
  • Know that God delights in you and in spending time with you.

#SeedsofScripture #scripturestudy #readthebiblebetter #timewithgod #bettertogivethanreceive #godsmack #godincidence


  1. J.D. Wininger on July 13, 2023 at 6:27 AM

    Sometimes, the most difficult gift for us to accept is God’s grace. I think it’s because we don’t think ourselves deserving of it; somehow we haven’t earned it. But isn’t that the great lesson of grace my friend. We can never earn it, we can only accept it for the gift it is. If God doesn’t want us to have it, He won’t extend it. I remind myself that His grace is like His forgiveness. Who am I to reject either? Do I know better than God? Do I judge myself more righteously than God? Be looking for an email from me, and know you didn’t take a week off. You delivered at least two things God wanted you to deliver upon. You accepted His grace by giving yourself a bit of a break and you gave someone the needed word God wanted you to deliver to them. God’s blessings friend.

    • CathyChung on July 13, 2023 at 8:02 AM

      Yes, JD. I spent YEARS trying to earn God’s forgiveness and my life finally changed when I realized that was futile and I just had to receive it. Yes, he could love me. NO, it didn’t depend on me. That was my rebirth. Thanks for the encouragement. I know God gave me the messages he needed to go out. I’m praying for your appt which if memory serves me is tomorrow.

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Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts. If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.

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