Oh, the gift giving frenzy of Christmas! How we love the sport! Sales and coupons, red tags and bargain hunting. Traffic jams and waiting in line to turn over your money and claim your prize. Some dread it, but most thrive on it and revel in it. We save and plan all year for giving gifts at Christmas. Generosity is the prevailing spirit. Thoughtfulness is elevated to an art form. We think nothing of laying out hundreds or thousands of dollars to give to others. Many times we don't even hope for anything in return - we just want to take the opportunity to give.
The Puritans who helped establish this nation, hated the very idea. They thought Chritmas should be spent in sober reflection on the gift God has given us. They held to (and enforced) an observation of Christmas that was devoid of merriment and celebration. But I really can't imagine God being displeased with our month-long indulgence in selflessness. If we are careful to remember and properly honor God for His great Gift, can we not also express our gratitude and joy in giving?
"But I don't have much to give," some will complain. There isn't much money, and it's already spoken for well before you get it. That's great! You're in the perfection position to help the world dispense with this notion that you have to be wealthy to give someone something of value. Actually, we would have thought Jesus already did that. He was born to a peasant family and came to us as a helpless, empty-handed baby. Yet, what He gave us is more precious than all the most expensive gifts in the Neiman Marcus catalog.
The truth is, every one of us has something more precious to give than all the money in the world. It may take us a while to help people understand this truth and accept it. After all, it's been 2000 years since Peter spoke those disappointing words to a lame beggar sitting by one of the Temple gates: "Silver and gold have I none..." But what Peter had to give the man was worth so much more than money that the man could not have imagined even asking for it.
The presence of the same Christ who caused that lame man to walk, and gave the world its greatest example of generous love, lives in you and me. Oh, what we have to give! Don't settle for just what you can buy at a store and put it under a tree this Christmas. Give the good stuff. Give yourself. Give Jesus. Love people with His love. Forgive them with His grace. Pray for them with His passion. Not everyone will understand. But I promose you this: no one you meet will be disappointed with the gift you give them. In fact, the wiser they are, the more they will treasure it. And the more they treasure it, the more likely they will be to give themselves to others. It's the revolution Jesus started that first Christmas, and you and I get to be part of it today. "Glory to God...and on earth, peace to men on whome His favor rests."
"If this blesses anyone, God gets all the glory."