The Blessing Dilemma

A close-up of two people shaking hands

Is it truly more blessed to give than to receive? In this post I’d like to offer a few thoughts on this dilemma by recalling a situation I’m sure many of you will have encountered in daily life.

Love is a word at the heart of the Christian faith, as exemplified by the two commandments that Jesus said are the most important:

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

(Matthew 22:36-40 NIV)

So we are to love God and love our neighbour. But how does one’s obedience to the second of these commandments, to love our neighbour, play out in the theatre of life?

One scripture that provides some guidance is Acts 20:35, in which Paul quotes Jesus as saying “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. The context of the passage is that Paul is speaking to the leaders of the church in Ephesus (while on his missionary travels), giving examples of how to live with humility and serve the Lord.

But how does Jesus’ statement, recalled by Paul, apply to us today?

Let’s look at a practical example. Say you’ve gone out for a meal with a friend, and when it’s time to pay the bill a conversation must be had concerning who’s going to pay. You offer to pay, believing that the gesture would demonstrate kindness. Your friend responds by offering to pay, as they wish to be kind to you. At this point the blessing dilemma arises:

Is it more of a blessing to the other person for you to pay, or to let them pay?

It seems to me that the only way to ‘win’ in this situation is to reach a compromise. For example, one person can pay but with the agreement that the other will pay the next time you meet up. Or some other compromise can be struck; perhaps you split the bill or the one who doesn’t pay for the meal agrees to pay for the taxi home.

I suppose the main point I’d like to make in this article is that while we may feel generosity is instinctively an act of giving, we always have to be aware that if we are too generous, we may actually be hurting the feelings of others by making them feel guilty. Wherever possible, compromise seems to be the best way to be as loving as possible.

Do you agree? Let me know in the comments below!

30 Comments on “The Blessing Dilemma

  1. Hi Steven, good post. I frequently encounter such situations, in other words, as you say, how do we in practicality carry out Christ’s words. In the situation you presented and others similar, I suppose the idea is that when we offer to pay, we are indeed doing so out of love. The hope is that even if the other person wants to pay, he will at least recognize the intention of our heart and take note of it. Though we ended up NOT paying the bill at his insistence, he will by all means consider us to have done so by intent.

    Regarding your closing thoughts about hurting one’s feelings … if we mean well, hopefully this would not be his perception, but sometimes it could be that the other person is too sensitive? Anyway, communication and talking things out could go a long way in settling such issues.

    Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some good points, David! I particularly like what you said about communication. If we can explain where we’re coming from in these situations, that goes a long way 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Steven

    Lets look at it from another point of view: The sun is shining for everyone – it gives its light and warmth unconditionally – as soon as we attach conditions to our giving and sharing, then we come into a dilemma, we may find us in a competition: who is giving, who is taking I would even say that between friends, and people who have a similar financial standard – it is not really a matter of giving and taking, but a kind of balance between them – however, if we help poor people, not in order to make themselves feel ashamed of it, but as real human guesture, if we help friends or other people when they are down to give courage to them and doiing it not gain any profit from it, to do it selflessly without any pride, then I would say it is a very noble guesture – something that goes from heart to heart – the sunshine between people which has its root in love…

    Thank you very much for this good example, dear Steven 🙂
    All the best, my friend
    Didi

    Liked by 1 person

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