The bright boxes neatly wrapped under the Christmas tree and the smell of mouth-watering turkey emanating from the kitchen tempts us to have an improper focus on the holidays. Ashamedly, it is one hundred times easier to focus on the physical objects we expect to receive. Our carnal minds stay focused on the material objects we desire and enjoy here below. Our savior calls us to direct our gaze up to him, sitting at the right hand of God. We are called to remember his example of willing sacrifice, the humbling of his infinite and holy being to the form of a man, to be railed and spit upon. Lovingly, he allowed the Roman soldiers to pound nails into his flesh, and then he hung on the cross, a public humiliation for all to see. He was rejected by his own, forsaken by his Father, and suffered the torments of hell for sins foreign to his nature. It was our sins that nailed him to the tree. Taking our shame and death, he clothed us in his righteousness, giving us what we least deserve: life. Being the ultimate example of giving, Christ sacrificed his life for us, in perfect love.
How do we react to the words of scripture when we are called to give? Do we complain when we give of our own money in the collection plate? We did it last week, do we have to do it again? We kindly gave of our time to help our mother clean the kitchen, and now she wants us to help with the laundry? More? Again? Why are we so reluctant to give? Nothing on this earth, our clothes, food, or even our relationships, belong to us. These are gifts graciously given by God. When we give of our money, talents, or time, we are simply giving back what Christ has already given us. How can we hold back?
Giving is important as members of the body of Christ, but even more so is our attitude and motivation for giving. This matters more than the dollar amount on the check, or the hours spent helping a neighbor. We could give large amounts of money to the church, but if our hearts are not in the right place, we are hypocrites. We would be better off giving only a farthing as the poor widow in Mark 12 did. Jesus told his disciples “That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” Her financial straits did not stop her from freely giving all that she owned to her Lord. 2 Corinthians 9:7 lays out the correct mindset we are to have for giving. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or out of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
The Covenant Christian choirs recently sang a song highlighting our Savior’s gracious giving in the song entitled “He Giveth More Grace.” The chorus was a constant reminder of God’s unfailing and overflowing love for us. “His love has no limit, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men, for out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again!” This song brings tears to my eyes as I reflect on the countless times that I complain when asked to give up some of my money or time. My heavenly Father gave all that he had for my sake. He never grows weary of my dependence upon him. Every day is met with new blessings from above that are graciously given. This is what we are called to give thanks for and the focus we need to remember this holiday season.
Originally published January 2020, Vol 79 No. 1