Organizations like the International Humanist and Ethical Union use the “Happy Human” symbol, based on a 1965 design by Denis Barrington (from here ( Christianity is usually symbolized by the Bible and/or a cross.


When is pleasure healthy? That is when we give others pleasure because we care about them. Real pleasure comes from the joy we receive in the happiness of others. Real pleasure comes from giving of ourselves, but our natural tendency is to seek pleasure for ourselves. Hence, the Apostle Paul had to make this observation.

Acts 20:35 New American Standard Bible

35 In everything I showed you that by working hard in this way you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

When did Jesus say that it more blessed to give than to receive? That is not certain. Some scholars point to Matthew 10:8, admitting that Paul’s quote and Jesus’ words are not a direct match. Apparently, Paul quoted Jesus, but he was the only one who wrote down this phrase. Nevertheless, Paul’s quote is consistent with what Jesus taught. Consider John 13:1-17 NASB – Bible Gateway. That passage tells us how Jesus humbled Himself to wash His disciples feet. That passage ends with these words.

John 13:17 New American Standard Bible

17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

Another translation of the Bible includes this footnote about Acts 20:35.

The Aramaic is an idiom that speaks of extravagant generosity. “Blessed are those who try to give more than they’ve been given.”

Acts 20:35 TPT – I’ve left you an example of how you – Bible Gateway

God does not bless us for serving ourselves; He blesses us for serving others. Like our parents God teaches us to share the toys He has given us with others. God teaches us that joy comes from giving and sharing in the happiness of others.

How much more blessed is it to give than it is to receive? Consider how Jesus defined greatness.

Mark 10:35-45 New American Standard Bible

35 James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, *came up to Jesus, saying to Him, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. 40 But to sit on My right or on My left is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41 Hearing this, the other ten began to feel indignant with James and John. 42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles domineer over them; and their people in high position exercise authority over them. 43 But it is not this way among you; rather, whoever wants to become prominent among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wants to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

When we read this passage, we are immediately struck by two things.

  • We are amazed by the audacity of James and John. They asked to sit next to God?
  • We are amazed by the foolishness of James and John. They still don’t understand the nature of the cup that Jesus is about to drink.

What fades pass us? What makes us just as foolish as those apostles? We don’t immediately understand that in spite of the horror His death Jesus gained joy from giving His life for our sakes, that He actually does want us to learn from and follow His example.

So, what about that title? What does it truly mean to fear the Lord? Contemplate the example of Jesus Christ. What could be more terrifying than a God who commands us to love Him with all our heart, strength, mind, and soul? What could be more awe inspiring? A Holy God? A God who loves so much He lays down His life for sinners?

Romans 5:6-8 New American Standard Bible

6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous person; though perhaps for the good person someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


  1. Tom

    Thoughtful post but is a ‘hard sell’ school curriculums being taught in private religious schools of ” giving is better than receiving.”

    Much easier is the ‘soft sell’ being taught in public schools curriculum to teach the vanities in life in the USA, in my opinion.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

  2. And who was positioned to the right and to the left of Jesus when he claimed his kingdom? Two thieves. Both mocked the Lord at first, but then one came to his senses and said, “Lord, remember me when you enter your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Jesus endured the cross to keep James and John from facing the cross. We also are preserved by his sacrifice. We cannot earn a place in his kingdom; it comes to us as a gift. But the gift also shapes us, transforming us into His image. J.

    1. @Salvageable

      Agreed! We cannot earn salvation. Salvation is gift we can only accept, but we are blessed by following His example, both in this life and the next. How are we blessed? In this life, we learn how to love and what it means to be loved by God. In the next? We won’t really know until we die.

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