I love Christmas! Always have. As a young child, it meant a trip to my grandparents’ house in Indiana for a week with the extended family – grandma and grandpa, mom, dad, aunts, uncles, and cousins all crammed together in the same house. Now, I’m sure for some out there this is the last thing you would ever want to be forced into doing, and the mere thought of it is stirring memories and images you’d rather not dwell on.
But for me, it was as close to nirvana as I could come. This was mostly because things were so different from the normal routine…
a changed dinner menu complete with grandmas great desserts…a different bed to sleep in (the foldout couch – how cool!)…getting to stay up way past your normal bedtime (O, the joy!)…watching TV in the basement…trying to hit the 8-ball in the corner pocket on a warped pool table (that was a tough shot)…talking about and watching sports with my uncles…playing in the snow…card and board games…and at the heart of every annual get together was the Christmas gift exchange.
Now the gift exchange went something like this…each year the adults would draw names out of a hat (usually at the previous Christmas) and the person whose name was written on your tiny slip of paper, you became responsible to purchase their gifts. Around October, grandma would ask each family member to send her their “Christmas List”, a list of affordable items you wanted for Christmas. She would organize everyone’s list, cross off the items she was going to buy for each individual, and then send the list on to your assigned person. The lists would arrive around Thanksgiving and then you would go out and purchase several items that were on your persons’ list.
The actual gift exchange event took several hours to complete. We would hand out presents one by one until they were all gone and watch as each person opened their gift. And what I remember most from those events was a lot of laughter (from the many “gag/joke gifts”), a lot of smiles and hugs, and many “Thank You’s ” being said. But most of all, I remember the expressions of joy on the faces of those who gave the gifts.
That last part seems a little backward. You would think that the most joy would come from those who received the gifts. After all, their Christmas present wish list was coming true – “What I wanted I am now getting!” But that was not the case. What was modeled for me as a child in that small, Indiana home was that giving to others brought a deeper sense of satisfaction and personal reward than receiving.
Giving Is a Characteristic of God
Giving is a part of God’s nature. John 3:16 describes this to us when Jesus states that “…God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
We see in this verse that God gave. He didn’t receive and he didn’t take. He gave something extremely valuable so that humanity would get the chance to have a relationship with Him.
I get the sense when I read the Bible that God didn’t do this because He had to but because he wanted to and it gave Him great joy to be able to offer this free gift to us.
Our Giving Nature
God has passed his giving nature on to the human race. The Bible teaches that the first person, Adam was created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). So it would seem logical to conclude that the physical, intellectual and emotional characteristics of God were passed on to humanity in some diminished form. In essence, we portray a small picture or reflection of who God is. And that includes the capacity to give.
There are by far more verses on giving in the Bible than any other topic related to money. The Bible teaches to give to God from our increase in wealth, to give offerings beyond what we would normally give, to give to the poor and needy, to give of our time and talents, to give to our government by paying taxes, to give to our church and to give to our heirs. We are to give sacrificially, with pleasure, without showing favoritism, honestly and in wisdom. And we see in the pages of the Bible, there are tremendous personal blessings that come to those who make a habit of giving.
So, in the pursuit of our individual wealth creation, make it a priority to give often and give generously. After all, it is a part of our nature.
Prior Post: The Earth Is God’s and I Am His Steward