Encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:14
It was a dreary week. I had been feeling lethargic and listless, although I couldn’t figure out why.
Near the end of the week, I found out that an aunt had kidney failure. I knew I had to visit her—but to be honest, I felt like postponing the visit. Still, I made my way to her place, where we had dinner, chatted, and prayed together. An hour later, I left her home feeling upbeat for the first time in days. Focusing on someone else rather than myself had somehow improved my mood.
Psychologists have found that the act of giving can produce satisfaction, which comes when the giver sees the recipient’s gratitude. Some experts even believe that humans are wired to be generous!
Perhaps that’s why Paul, when encouraging the church in Thessalonica to build up their faith community, urged them to “help the weak” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Earlier, he had also cited Jesus’s words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). While this was said in the context of giving financially, it applies as well to the giving of time and effort.
When we give, we get an insight into how God feels. We understand why He’s so delighted to give us His love, and we share in His joy and the satisfaction of blessing others. I think I’ll be visiting my aunt again soon.
Insight: Do you ever feel that you’re always on the giving end? Or do you feel you’re always taking and receiving—with nothing to offer others but your own neediness? Take another look at Paul’s words to the Thessalonians. See if you can hear the wisdom of someone who knows there’s a time to give and a time to receive.
If you sense that you’re receiving more than your fair share of help, does Paul give you any idea about what you have to give even while receiving? Can you see that in acknowledging graciously the hard work of those who are caring for you, God can actually use you to encourage them?
If you seem to be giving to the point of exhaustion, see if you can hear any gentle wisdom here for yourself.
Prayer: Father, You have made me to give to others just as You have given to me. Teach me to give so that I can truly reflect Your character and be more like You today. Amen