Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Preparations, Part III

Have you watched the old animated Christmas feature, about how the Grinch was planning to "steal Christmas"? He schemed and he planned, and then he stole all of the decorations and presents and food from the village, but --- to his shock, Christmas still came!
Modern-day Scrooges and Grinches mutter about the season being "all about the presents," but in a way, they are right . . . but it's not the presents we get that bless our hearts; it's the giving of presents that brings joy! If we want to prepare our hearts for Christmas, we need to re-discover the blessing of giving.

In Acts 20:35, Paul tells us:
35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
He was speaking these words to friends that were saying farewell, and heading back to Ephesus, and he quoted Jesus in his farewell to them. We have the record of Christ's own words in Luke:
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38)
The Biblical principle is the same: giving brings even more blessing to the giver than to the receiver. Hmmmm . . . are we living this truth? Our whole culture is 'way more into "getting" than into "giving." Kids (and some adults, too) make lists of what they'd like to get, not what they can give. And who among us hasn't gone into the store, spent quite a bit of money, and then put just a few coins into the bell-ringer's bucket outside? Are we getting the proportions wrong, here?
It's not wrong to exchange presents --- I think what Paul and Jesus were telling us is this: the pleasure of receiving a gift can't compare to the joy of giving a gift. I bet we all can recall times, as kids or adults, that we've been super excited to unwrap and play with/use a gift, only to have it soon sit on the shelf, largely forgotten.
But here are some joys that won't fade away:
The smile of a soldier overseas who received  your card or package, as he or she is many miles from home, protecting the freedoms that you enjoy.
The joy of a homeless mom and kids, who have escaped the battering at home to start a new life -- the quilt or toys that you gift them will help them realize they truly have a new beginning in safety.
The warm feeling that you get, after visiting a home-bound person, and relieving that loneliness that was about to overtake them completely -- the meal you brought with you will remind them for days of the fellowship you shared with them.
The peaceful feeling that you get, when you have shared some of your financial blessings to feed or clothe someone who has nothing. When you do without something that you want, in order to give them something they need --- that feeling of joy is a blessing that will last far longer than any gift that you can receive.
the streets. What a perfect way to celebrate the birth of Christ--giving to others.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  (John 3:16)
When we give, we are doing what God did at Christmas -- He gave His best to us. Let's prepare our hearts for Christmas by re-discovering the blessing of giving. Let's enjoy the presents that we receive, but let us never forget that the real joy comes from having a giving heart.

1 comment:

Belinda said...

I am going to shamelessly admit that I for one like getting gifts. BUT, I get much more pleasure from watching someone else open a gift I've given them.

My Sunday morning Bible Study class provides essentials to the women of our local Battered Women's Shelter. Periodically, we either bring money or we bring toiletries to class along with a hand written card for them.

This year we also provided needed funds for two families who didn't have any money for their children's gifts. And this week, I personally shopped and bought gifts for a family I know that are in need of simple gifts.

Did I have to sacrifice for those meager offerings? Not much. And giving of your time is just as important if not more. I really haven't given much of that either. But, I can feel good about the little I've done. I hope God is pleased.