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The Generosity of Hard Work By Ed McDowell

Paul Knew the Link Between Generosity and Hard Work

Today we explore The Apostle Paul and his messages about the profound generosity produced by hard work.  At this time, he was preparing to leave the church of Ephesus after spending three years with them. Here is what he had to say to them.

“I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes. You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Acts of the Apostles 20:33-35 NLT

Let’s break down Paul’s statement and see what it reveals about following Christ through the lens of working hard.

Reflection

“I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes.”

Following Christ is not focused on wishing we could have other people’s resources.  This is a “focus” statement, not a “poverty” statement. We are focused on working hard to make the most of the opportunities and responsibilities God has given to us.

“You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me.” 

One of the most beautiful aspects of hard work is the provision created for yourself and others. I am grateful for people who have developed companies, big and small, and in the process of working hard, have provided well for themselves and everyone else involved in the effort. Generosity is built into hard work. It creates provision and opportunity for so many.

“And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard.’ 

When you develop capabilities in your own life through hard work, it creates opportunities to help others who have needs.  This becomes part of the overflow of your life, looking for ways to give, contribute, and help where needs exist.  

“You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” 

Working hard is the beginning of generosity. Get up with a purpose every day, and continue to grow in skill and capacity to fill that purpose.  As you do, you will create opportunities for others, providing needs, resources, and support to help people thrive.  As your vision of generosity through hard work grows, you will experience the truth of Jesus’ words.

Encouragement

Here is an encouragement activity for you today.  Identify three–five people who have worked hard to create opportunities for you.  What is the hard work they did for you?  What did they expect of you to participate in the opportunity?  How did they help others along the way?  If possible, reach out and thank these people in your life.  They have come to a profound understanding of sharing generously through hard work.

Prayer

Dear Jesus,

These words from the Apostle Paul are something we need to stop and settle into again today in our lives. We live in a culture that prioritizes leisure and pleasure.  We forget the profound opportunity to provide for ourselves, create opportunities for others, and respond to people’s unmet needs with abundant resources. You give us through hard work. 

This should not be mistaken for a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mindset.  Rather it is meant to be understood that one of the ways Your generosity is given to this world is through hard work.

We aren’t living to take advantage of others or to covet what others have.

Instead, we are humbly faithful by working hard with the gifts and talents You have given us.  We keep looking for opportunities that provide for ourselves and help others.  We grow in responsiveness to meeting the needs of others.

Thank You.

In Jesus’ name, we pray,

Amen

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Ed McDowell is the CEO of Warm Beach Camp. He has extensive experience in overseeing and directing ministry organizations, including stewardship development, personnel, and organizational management.


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