The Blessing Dilemma

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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!


  1. Interesting take on that Steven, thanks for sharing.

    It is drummed into us that we are more blessed to give than to receive but maybe we need to start thinking outside the box like you have suggested. I really like that dude.

    Imagine the power of compromising if the person you are with has been struggling with not being generous and has always held on to their money really tightly. It’s an area of their life that God wants and they have recently felt a strong conviction to make some changes. If we are present in moments like that and discern what’s going on we would be playing a role in changing some ones life. Or our strong personality insists that we pay and they can pay next time..

    I hope I haven’t missed your point lol, but you have certainly got me thinking.

    Hope life (your accommodation and mental health) has been going good for ya man. Let me know your prayer needs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Dave!

      I think I get your point, which is basically that the way we handle these situations can have a life-changing impact on others. I’m not 100% sure that was your point, but in any case, I think that’s true.

      Thanks for asking about my prayer needs, that’s really kind of you! Prayers for health (physical and mental) are always appreciated! You’re in my prayers too, buddy 🙂

      Blessings and peace!


      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been in this situation before, in which someone was so insistent on being generous that it became invasive. Christ listened to the true needs and desires of people’s hearts, and I think that is what I would strive to do, rather than making someone feel uncomfortable with my own desire to serve or assist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear what you’re saying about the potential for excessive generosity to become invasive, even if that’s not someone’s intention. Discerning people’s true needs is tough, but a worthy goal to aspire to! Thanks for sharing!

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