Paul tells the Ephesian elders that it is ‘more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:35). This philosophy, which he directly ascribes to Jesus even though this is not a direct quotation from any of the four gospels, is definitely in line with Jesus’s teaching: ‘Freely you have received; freely give.’ (Matt 10:8) Paul goes on to develop this much more in his letter to the Corinthians, where he reminds us that God loves a cheerful giver and that those who sow generously will reap generously. (2 Cor 9:6-8)

The theme of giving runs throughout the whole Bible, and is even used to describe the advent of Jesus (see John 3:16). We forget this truth at our peril, becoming people who are miserly who find life difficult to manage (Haggai 2:15-19) unlike those whose generosity leads to prosperity (see Prov 11:25). We do not give simply to receive, however, but give as the overflow of forgiven hearts who have received so much from the Lord.

As we approach Christmas, our thoughts once again are turned to gifts and blessing, and it’s worth remembering this principle. As we seek to bless others in our local community and further afield (through our support of Bedline, Amshika and Innocent and through the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas appeal), we can know this truth in practice and teach this truth to our children. Giving is a great blessing, for it signifies the abundant provision of our God.