Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

18 December 2009

Giving Good Gifts

I'm uneasy about the unequivocal righteous railing against gift giving that seems to be rising up these days at Christmas time. I really, really, DO get that things are out of whack with how we do gifts at Christmas, and there does need to be some "market correction". So we're trying to solve this in different ways.

Often there are group gifts or dollar limits. And that's fine. It CAN even be good. But something always feels like it's missing.

When I hear people say, "Let's just not give gifts to each other, we already have everything" it leaves me feeling very unsettled. First of all, the sad thing is that it's likely true! We have SO MUCH that one more do-dad for the trinket-trunk is impractical white noise. So is that the answer? We'll just all take care of ourselves?

I'm also not a big fan of gift lists. "Tell me what you want and I'll just buy it for you" has never felt RIGHT to me. What kind of gift is that? Is it EVEN a gift? Here's what "gift" means.

"Gift: Something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned"

Sounds pretty darn Biblical and powerful to me. Think about gifts Biblically. They were not cheap. They were not practical. And they rarely came in the form that our "lists" to God are written. I love the Mary and Martha story in John 12

"Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus' feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house. Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, even then getting ready to betray him, said, "Why wasn't this oil sold and the money given to the poor? Jesus said, "Let her alone. You always have the poor with you. You don't always have me."

It's so interesting that Jesus concern was with the extravagant honoring of the moment. It was an expensive, impractical and very sacrificial gift. Even the Christmas story itself involves great gift giving. Matthew 1:11 talks about the Magi (wisemen)

They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.

Jeeze... not terribly practical for a new born. They could have at least brought diapers. Poor kid was wrapped in swaddling clothes! Think about it.

  • God made an earth and gave it to man
  • God knew we needed a savior and gave us Jesus (but not in the way people were asking for)
  • Jesus knew we needed his BLOOD and chose to die
  • Romans 8: 16-17 even says that we are Co-Heirs to the stinkin' earth for eternity

"For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering."

These are true gifts. "Something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned"

Last Christmas, Brian preached at Freedom House about how Jesus isn't really even the reason for the season. WE'RE the reason for the season. The Christmas story happened so that the whole earth could be filled with His glory via US since "Christ in me is the hope of glory". And we're called to be those "Little Christs" on earth.

I'm not pro-greed here or for the thoughtlessness of far too many of the gifts that are given at Christmas. Quite the opposite. We need to THINK about what we're doing. In every scenario realize that we're called to be generous givers in some way. Work at your gifts. Find something that MEANS something, costs you something, and points towards God because He IS good. "The spirit of Christmas" doesn't really exist. It's actually the "Spirit of God" being released through our actions that gives you that GOOD feeling when you give.

Bill Murray learned it in Scrooged... and I hope we get it somehow too. When you give... you get. Be greedy to be generous on all occasions for the right reasons.


Martin said...

Yes and Amen Brother. Preach it!

Dave Carrol said...

you helped me confirm this in me man. Principles are communicated through our actions and we're supposed to make an impact with our lives in the sphere of influence we're given!

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