Give or Take

“It is more blessed to give than to receive”, said Jesus (according to Paul in Acts 20:35). Growing up in Sunday School, a Christian primary school and whatnot, this has always been one of those phrases that everyone knows and occasionally quotes out-of-context when we jokingly want to convince someone to share something with us.

I’ve only realised today that I’ve never actually given it much thought.

Only recently, I struggled with a rather silly issue that epitomizes the meaning of this verse. For the past few years since we’ve moved on from JC, my JC friends have a tradition of everyone pooling money together to get a gift for someone when it’s their birthday. Normally, one or two people are in charge of getting the gift and shortly the rest will receive a message telling us how much we owe them for the gift. That’s all fine, but a few months after my birthday last year (which was not too long ago), I realised that they didn’t get me a gift for my birthday last year.

For a period of time, I admit, I felt quite aggrieved and the little prone-to-tantrums kid inside me was screaming “NO FAIR!!!!” incessantly. After all, I’ve been paying all year for different people’s gifts, but when it comes to the end of the year to my birthday… none, zilch, nada. Getting over the initial feelings of injustice though, I was soberly reminded that when you give gifts, you don’t give them because you expect one in return. Was I paying for my friends’ gifts all year just so I would receive one too? Should I stop giving just because I wasn’t receiving?

You can see where this is going. Today after reading this verse, I finally realised what it meant, and that even a simple, silly thing like this can reflect my identity and attitude as a Christian. I don’t claim to be a selfless, generous, big-hearted giver (far from it, in fact), but it has opened my eyes to see a whole new aspect of what ‘cheerful giving’ really means!

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