May I take a break from the “Power Series” I have been writing on in the last couple of days? Would you please permit me to write about Christmas? That seems to be the word on every lip at this particular time and season. Most people that I know are shopping for Christmas. Most importantly, they are buying gifts and receiving gifts from their loved ones.
There is a wonder about Christmas. It is a period of intense giving. This is because of the significance of the day itself. God demonstrated his love towards us by giving us his only begotten son. God showed that he loved us by giving. Giving is the greatest proof of love. You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving.
The season also imposes its tyranny on many of us. Instead of being able to give out of thoughtfulness and love, we often give because it is "expected". “Just grab at anything that Uncle can smile at when he unwraps it”, even though no one can think of anything he really wants or needs. I know of people who have hundreds of people they feel obligated to remember with a gift. No wonder the joy of giving falls away to a sort of panicked despair.
It is time to refresh our giving with a truth from Scripture deeply imbedded into our consciousness from hundreds of repetitions at church offerings: "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver"
Can we give cheerfully this Christmas? Can we determine to meet people’s needs (and this should not start and stop during Christmas alone) and not just give religiously or out of compulsion? Can we emulate the great Gift of Christmas? "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.
God gave, not reluctantly or because He was forced by popular opinion, but because He loved. No store-bought gift would do for those He held dear; it must be home-made. Nor was His choice of Gift an optional trinket for the "man who has everything." He gave the only possession that we don't have and really need. He did not give a thing, an object. He gave Himself--a costly Gift in the extreme, so expensive that many reject the Gift because of the obligation they know they incur upon acceptance.
Herein lays a Christmas mystery. Only by opening the first Gift may we truly comprehend what is the real significance of giving and receiving gifts. May this season not capture us in its tyranny, but release us in an eager cheerfulness to give