Summary: IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS (Part 2) If you and I are to keep from being embarrassed at Christmas, we need to learn to give in the same way God has given to us. Selfless giving follows God’s example. God hasn’t given us anything waiting
Have you ever been embarrassed a Christmas? Has you found yourself “red faced” and it wasn’t due to the cold? Unfortunately many of us have fallen into the commercial Christmas mentality and find ourselves overly self-conscious and uncomfortable if we receive an unexpected gift from someone and don’t have something to give in return. The American way of doing Christmas is to have a gift exchange where everyone understands the giving ground rules and then abides by them; we want everyone to be treated fairly, right?
We have what I call the “give to get” problem when we give to some of our extended family members. Susie likes to get the second-cousin kids a little gift $2 or $3 gift for when we are at my grandma’s house; it doesn’t always go over well because no one got anything for our kids—and that’s okay. Maybe it’s just me but it seems like my cousins feel obligated to return the favor for our kids, but they hadn’t gotten anything.
This even happens with the gift exchange for the 12 cousins/grandkids when we’re at my parents home for Christmas. We set the rules for this gift exchange. The cousins exchange names and are to each buy a $20 to $25 gift. That’s fine except Susie and I account for 5 of the grandkids so we’re buying for 5 of the cousins. Now do the math 12 grandkids total minus our 5 kids equals 7 cousins altogether. Now it’s not that big of a deal for me to just by two more gifts and give all 7 cousins a gift; it will only cost me an extra $40 to $50. But here’s the problem; my siblings only have 2 or 3 kids each, so if they buy for all the cousins they have to buy 9 or 10 gifts—a lot more than the 2 or three they are buying now. We do this so everyone can save money, or so I’m told. But where is it written that everyone has to be given the same dollar amount? If my sister can only afford $50 on gifts for the cousins, then what’s wrong with getting them all a $5 gift? If my brother can’t really afford anything to do anything this year, then why are we making him buy any gifts at all?
>> What are we teaching our kids when we have gift exchanges with ground rules whereby you give to get? What happened to, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive” (see Acts 20:35)? Where is the joy in giving if you’re just waiting to see what you get in return?
The Bible does also say, “Give and it will be given to you” (see Luke 6:38). But we should not “give to get” always looking under the Christmas tree wondering what’s in it for me. Our motive for giving should never be selfish. Our giving should always focus on the recipient of the gift and not ourselves.
That’s the way God has given to us—God gave with no strings attached.
• 1 John 4:10 (NIV)
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
>> If you and I are to keep from being embarrassed at Christmas, we need to learn to give in the same way God has given to us. Selfless giving follows God’s example. God hasn’t given us anything waiting to see what’s in it for Him. God gave His very best expecting nothing in return.
In perhaps one of the best known verses in the Bible Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV). John 3:16 does not say, “God gave his one and only son to the world yearning and hoping to receive the world in return.” God did not give His son with a “give to get” motive.
This is love—GOD GAVE expecting nothing in return. This is what love is. God’s love is not based in our love for God; God had no prerequisite or requirement that we should love Him; God’s love does not demand any response from us. Love is given freely without any though of oneself; real love is not selfish. Love is the gift of God’s Son. Love is Jesus making it possible for our sins to be forgiven.
• 1 John 4:10 (MsgB)
This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
Jesus made a relationship with God possible. On the cross Jesus took our sins upon Himself making it possible for us to be forgiven. Because Jesus died in our place our sins can be cleared away to restore and renew our relationship with God. What was broken and destroyed by sin is made new—we can be friends of God! That’s what God’s love has done for us.