no-gift-cartoon

My Christmas giving is un-Christian!

I might even say it’s “anti-Christ” (against Christ).

Ok, now that I have your attention let me explain.  What I mean is that when I feed the rampant materialism of our culture by buying lots of “things” for family and friends, I am leading people toward greed and away from the priorities and example of Jesus, who gave up the splendor of heaven, submitted to the limits of human flesh, and even gave himself up to death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8). He gave the gift of eternal life by sacrificially and selflessly offering his own life.

But aren’t gifts that are truly given out of love for another an act of self-sacrifice, just as Christ gave himself for us?  Perhaps.  They can be.  But how much of our gift-giving is really based on selfless love?

Often around this time of year we go out to buy gifts for the sake of giving gifts. Gift-giving for the sake of gift-giving. This is especially true when I buy something for someone just because they gave me a gift or because I feel obligated by expectations, familiarity, and “wants” to give.

So what would Christ-like gift giving look like?  …I’m glad you asked!

  • It would look like channeling blessings we have received and re-gifting them for people who are hurting.
  • It would look like giving that actually helps someone who has a need…such as “the least of these.”
  • It would look like giving away not just surplus, but giving away until it hurts.
  • It would be gifting done with thought and intention rather than spur of the moment splurging (“Hurry! There are only X number of shopping days until Christmas!”)

When we go back to Bethlehem, we find gifts brought to the baby Jesus from thoughtful and wise travelers.  Gifts fit for a king.  Will the gifts we give this year be fit for our King, offered in love and grace that will truly bless and help those we are giving to?

May we have the courage to try something different this year:  Giving to meet needs, rather than simply indulging wants, whether ours or others.  Consider our “Christmas Is Not Your Birthday” Giving Challenge as one way to make a difference with your giving. And may you know the joy of Christ-like, selfless, sacrificial giving this Christmas!

Pastor Jon