Christmas Should Not Make Me Mad
The thought of Christmas should not make me mad but sometimes it does. I just watched a commercial about gift shopping and it is November 4th. Amid gently falling snow some model dressed in red boots and a Santa hat with a lively “holiday” song playing in the background is pitching her product. Santa’s perky little Miss elfette says I cannot have a jolly Christmas unless I shop at her store. There isn’t even one of those stores near where I live; how far do I want to drive to so my Christmas won’t be a disaster?
I heard a commercial on the radio for another store which used the tag line “don’t give loser gifts like you did last year.” Can you believe it was for an office supply store? Nothing brings a festive Christmas morning like the kids excitedly opening day planners, receipt books and paper clips. Can you imagine all of the parents frantically assembling office chairs and bookshelves for the kids to unwrap from Santa? Makes you wonder what gifts they gave last year to get them to think giving a highlight marker is a real coup? Maybe the kids now-a-days have contests trading different colored post it notes back and forth until they get every color. I think I will be a loser again this year thank you very much.
Why do we give gifts at Christmas anyway? As Christians we say it is to celebrate the birth of Christ or to commemorate the giving of gifts by the Magi. Giving at Christmas has taken on something that does not seem to have anything remotely to do with honoring Christ. The first Christmas in itself was a precious gift, “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 live” (John 3:16). God gave His very best to meet our greatest need, giving not to just make us happy or comfortable, giving to open the door to saving our lives.
The Magi gave to Jesus as an act of worship, showering him with rare gifts. They gave their best meeting the greatest need of Christ’s family – funds to flee the slaughter of Herod. Being led by God these wise men gave unselfishly of time and gifts allowing Jesus’ to flee to the safety of Egypt.
What can we do to redeem Christmas giving? We must realize that teaching our children to be unselfish givers is the best gift we can give for Christmas. Not just givers, but givers with a more biblical foundation; givers sharing what they have as an act of worship. I love 2 Corinthians 8-9 where the backward, rural poor Macedonians responded overwhelmingly to a need of the persecuted Christians in Jerusalem. Paul writes “And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.”
These extremely poor people gave to meet a need, a very dire need out of worship for the Lord. Can God’s people go deeply in debt, delay bills owed or give frivolous material goods in excess and think we are honoring Jesus’ birth? Can we do this in good conscience when lives around the world hang in the balance for the want of a nutritious meal? How many gifts from last year are sitting in closets of the Godly when scores of missionaries are unable to get to their place of ministry for lack of funds? How many times over could dust collecting resources be multiplied when used instead to reach those who have not even heard about God’s original selfless gift – the gift of his own Son Jesus?
Let’s see what happens when the Macedonians gave in a Godly way. “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of this service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the Gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their heats will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace god has given you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
When we give as God leads at the point of people’s greatest need; it as if we are confessing to the very gospel of Jesus. When meeting the real needs of people it is so impactful to their hearts they cannot help but praise the Lord for your generosity and faithfulness – and, they pray for you!
I encourage God’s people to rethink giving this Christmas. Give as an act of worship to Jesus. Give a gift that will point others to Jesus – the ultimate gift.
This daily devotion is written by John Key