Labor of Love

Michael Beck

“I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring 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.” (Acts 20:35)

Paul appreciated the thoughtfulness and generosity of others. Having received a gift from the Philippian church, he wrote: “Ye have done well” (Phil. 4:14) But Paul did not keep a scorecard on how much or how little he was getting from others. To his spiritual children at Corinth he wrote: “Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.” (2 Cor. 12:14)

People inevitably fall short of our expectations. Had Paul been focused on himself and what he deserved, he would have become embittered. Bitterness causes our heart to shrink and our hand to close up, repaying other people’s lack toward us with a retaliatory withholding. But Paul went in the opposite direction. The less people gave to him, the more he gave to them. “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” (2 Cor. 12:15)

How much richer are we all today because Paul kept giving. Despite how meagerly Paul was rewarded in his day, the church in every generation has been immeasurably blessed by his decision to overcome bitterness and remain generous. Paul understood what grace was all about. He remembered the words of the Lord Jesus – “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Though the return on your work may seem small in the present, don’t be weary in well doing. If you don’t faint, in due season, you will see much fruit from your labor of love.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.