Who needs help? The plain fact is: We all do! That was the principle behind God’s creation of woman, i.e. to be a helper suitable for man. As much as we might like to believe and/or have others believe to the contrary, no one is entirely sufficient in and of himself or herself. The strongest man and the strongest woman – both need help from time to time.
The principle of fellowship involves helping; it involves more but certainly helping one another is included. The New Testament is replete with examples and commands that involve helping one another. Jesus Himself frequently taught about the need to help others. Even of His own ministry, Jesus clearly stated that He came not to be served, but to serve [help] others (see Matthew 20.28). Paul also wrote much about this principle. He wrote to the Galatians: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6.2-3).
To state the case clearly, we all have periods in which we need to give and we all have periods in which we need to receive; sometimes we should help others and at other times we need help from others. As social creatures, none of us are sufficient in and of our selves all the time; at times we can bear our own burdens but at other times we need the assistance of others. This human principle is at the very heart of many, many other principles. The Golden Rule (see Matthew 7.12) is even affected by this principle.
For some, giving is difficult; for others, receiving is difficult; for yet another segment of humanity, both giving and receiving are difficult. However, difficult does not make a thing impossible; neither does it mean that it is not something that God expects of us. It is difficult sometimes to control my tongue, but God still expects me to do it. It is difficult to be kind when unkindness stares me in the face, but God still expects me to do it. It is difficult to love my enemies, but God still requires it of me. The grace of giving and the grace of receiving may be difficult graces, but God knew from the beginning these are good for us; we NEED these graces and He wants us to develop them as we proceed through life.
It may come as a surprise to some, but one of these graces is of greater significance than the other. Jesus identified the more significant one of the two. Paul, by inspiration, revealed Jesus’ words even though none of the “Gospel writers” did so. Paul quoted Jesus as having said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20.35). Although we might not know the specific reasons for Jesus having said this, we can draw some conclusions as to why giving is a more significant grace than receiving. In subsequent articles, we will show that there is a direct connection between loneliness and the absence, or at least an imbalance, in these graces.
God did not intend for believers to live a monastic lifestyle; neither did He intend for us to put an overemphasis on the social aspects of our lives. He did intend for us to engage in healthy fellowship with others and to develop the graces of giving and receiving.
1. What is the literal meaning of fellowship as commonly used in the New Testament?
2. What is the Golden Rule? How is the principle of helping one another impacted by the Golden Rule?
3. Who said it is more blessed to give than to receive? Who said He said that?
4. Who imposed monastic lifestyles on certain religious groups? Man or God?
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