Giving and Receiving

WHEN Paul was at Miletus on his way to Jerusalem, he found that he could not spare the time to go Ephesus and and return again, so he sent for the elders of the church to come and counsel with him. He earnestly besought them to watch, like faithful shepherds who protect the flock from prowling wolves. He reminded them how he had been earnest in his warnings night and day, and how he had wrought with his hands as a tent-maker at Corinth to minister to his own necessities and to provide for those with him. "I have shewed you all things," he said; "how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."

The teaching of Jesus to which he refers is probably that found in Luke, 14:12, 14. where Jesus advises his audience to learn the joy of hospitality by offering it to those whom it will bless, rather than to those who will be expected to return it and so make a recompense. Hospitality should be a form of ministry; whereas in its formal expression it may lose all joy because looked upon as part of a bargain. It must be clear that a sense of love, a recognition of good, a realization of abundance must first be gained before the expression of love and liberality will be natural and not forced. It is dreary work to give without having received. Christ Jesus first set forth in his teaching the scientific method for giving by showing how men could be blessed; and later he indicated that receiving must precede giving when he sent out his disciples to preach and to heal, saying, "Freely ye have received, freely give."

Suppose that a man found it expedient to make his home beside the trail that wound across a desert, and in the springtime dug a reservoir for water. So long as the pool showed water in abundance he could give a welcome to the passing traveler, and refresh his thirsty animals. But when the long silent days of shimmering heat began; when the plains grew gray like ashes, and the sage brush like the ghosts of trees that had perished by fire; when the water began to shrink in the pool, and the bordering mud began to crack till its crevices seemed like thirsty mouths whence the waters disappeared, would it then be easy to welcome the coming of travelers? Would not every dust cloud in the distance, marking the weary progress of heat-parched animals, bring a questioning to the erewhile hospitable man as to how much longer he could give from the failing pool without endangering his own life?

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"We have only as we give."
February 17, 1906

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