“Less is more,” I simply stated as looked into the eyes of my student. To their surprise, once they took my words to heart and applied this principle, they discovered it to be true. Yes, they actually hit the tennis ball harder when they held the tennis racquet looser!
As a professional tennis coach for 14 years, I commonly found newcomers to the game thinking that if they squeezed the grip tighter, they might actually create more pace. Hence I would often have to explain that the ‘death grip’ is counterproductive, for it slows down the racquet’s speed through the hitting zone, therefore slowing the pace of their shot. Once they properly held the racquet, applying the right amount of pressure with their fingers to the grip, they could move the racquet faster and hit the ball harder without the racquet coming out their hands.
If you play tennis, that tip is a freebie. If not, thanks for indulging me.
While less is more is an example of a counterintuitive principle in the physical, we again turn our attention to a fundamental counterintuitive principle spoken by the Lord Jesus:
“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
When the Apostle Paul exhorted the Ephesian elders one last time prior to heading to Jerusalem to face severe persecution in Acts 20:17-37, he told them to remember these words of Jesus. In fact, these are his final words to them before they prayed together – this was Paul’s parting shot – so it was important. Interestingly, this is the only direct quote from the Lord’s earthly ministry outside the gospels.
This principle in a worldly sense doesn’t make sense. For the world says it’s more blessed to get than to give – the dominant sentiment of the world being ‘look out for number 1.’ But these words of Jesus are for Kingdom citizens, namely believers, and are contrary to human wisdom. Additionally, they are spiritual, not worldly, and flow out of divine wisdom.
As we ponder this principle in light of our personal witness, as we learned last time (if you want to access part one, click here), the Apostle Paul gave testimony to the elders of his giving for the cause of the gospel. Last time we briefly touched upon the reality that Paul gave for the gospel humbly, sacrificially, publicly and personally Acts 20:17-21).
How else did Paul give towards the gospel in his witness?
The apostle gave with the finish line of his journey in mind:
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)
Paul gave with the end in mind: Despite knowing the upcoming persecution that awaited him in Jerusalem (Acts 20:22-23, 25), Paul wanted to stay faithful to the end of his life. He set his mind on things above (Colossians 3:2), so his sacrifice and giving were framed with an eternal perspective.
Are we storing up treasures on earth or treasure in heaven? When it comes to our witness for Jesus, it’s good to remember this fact: Evangelism is the one thing you can’t do in heaven!
May this reality motivate us give of ourselves evangelistically to the lost while we still can – striving to be faithful to pray for, serve and proclaim the gospel until we go to the Lord or He comes to receive us to Himself.
No matter your age or how long you’ve known Christ, we all are on a journey of unknown duration (to us). Yet, while we reside on this side of heaven, we are called to ‘redeem the time for the days are evil’ (Ephesians 5:16). Today is all we have, for we don’t know what a day may bring. Ask the Lord to show you what it means to redeem the time evangelistically, giving of yourself with the end in mind.
Finally, Paul exhorts the Ephesian elders to be on guard and be in the Word:
Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:31-32)
Paul gave himself to the Word: The Apostle was warning the elders to be on guard against false teachers, commending them to the Word of God. For the way to combat error is with truth.
As Paul also exhorted Timothy to ‘rightly divide the Word of truth’ (2 Timothy 2:15), that same charge applies to us. Today, it’s imperative that we understand and effectively apply the Word in our witness, because ‘faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God’ (Romans 10:17).
Regarding our investment in God’s Word, I’m reminded of a wise sage who quipped: “If you’re not getting into the Word, what are you getting into?” and “Get into the Word of God and let the Word of God get into you, because if you don’t, you’ll get into the world and the world will get into you.”
For when we actively live out the Great Commission mandate in our daily witness, we will be not just hearers of the word, but also doers of the Word (James 1:22-25).
May our witness in 2016 be characterized by giving with the end in mind and giving ourselves to the Word of God – that many walking in darkness would be brought into the light!
Lord Jesus, here I am, send me. I desire to be a shining light for Christ amidst those walking in darkness. Show me what it looks like to give evangelistically as I seek to know You and make You known. And as I give for Your glory, help me to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of your words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Amen.