A DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT by Marilyn Bennett
Christmas reminds us of the importance of giving and receiving. When the act of giving demands a reciprocal gift, it loses its joy. The interchange of giving and receiving can become a burden until we recognize that giving should come out of a heart overflowing with a desire to share.
Jesus had some things to say about giving in Matthew 5:42; 6:3-4; 7:11; 10:42; Luke 6:38; 12:32; and John 14:27.
Strangely, the desire to give often decreases when people are rich. Sometimes the richest are the stingiest and the poorest are the most generous. Still poverty is not a prerequisite for a grateful heart. No, gratefulness arises out of humility, the antithesis of entitlement, which is an attitude that plagues our country.
Giving does not need to cost money. We can give the gift of attention (a card, a text, an email, a call), the gift of kindness, the gift of hospitality, and the gift of love.
The concept of giving can be seen in two Christmas icons: Santa Claus and Baby Jesus.
The first Santa was a fourth century Greek Bishop, Nicolas, who lived in Asia Minor and was a great gift giver. As Nicolas became a popular saint of Christendom, his story morphed into the Santa Claus story we know today. Santa Claus is the giver of material goods.
However, it was the baby Jesus who inspired the Bishop to give without expecting gifts in return. Jesus is the giver of immaterial, unlimited grace.
This Jesus is the true reason we celebrate Christmas. The Christ Child is the focus of Christmas, the incarnation of a perfect God. Jesus came to show his love for you.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself,
and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him
and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
In this ultimate act of giving, God shows us he is trustworthy. “Amazing love, how can it be that thou my God should die for me?”