Summary: A look at the different attitudes toward giving at Christmas (or any) time.
*****A BELL AS A PROP WOULD BE HELPFUL***********
season.... as we shop and we walk through the malls...into Wal-Mart...or any other store we hear them....and the sounds that these bells make mean many different things to different people....and today we are going to examine the possible reactions we might have to the sounds of these bells.
First off....I have to say that this is not a direct endorsement of the Salvation Army...it is a "plug" for them...the reason why I am mentioning them is because of the familiarity we have with them during Christmas...because we see them and hear them...they are one of the most recognizable charities during this time of year....so we are using them as a symbol...not for the Salvation Army itself but for the things that we give to during this time of year.
After all, this time of year that we are just entering into...it is traditionally called the "season of giving" isn’t it? Even as Christians....isn’t it safe to say that many of us...when we hear the word "Christmas" we think of all the gifts that we have to buy...and give...and...let’s be honest...the gifts that we are going to receive as well? I mean, if we are really honest there are very few occasions in which we give a gift to someone that we aren’t going to get one back in return...it’s called reciprocity and that isn’t the type of giving that I am talking about today.
The type of giving I am talking about is the giving that you do to charities...whether it be the Salvation Army, Toys for Tots...or any other organization...ones that you are not going to get any material things back in return. That is the type of giving I am talking about this morning.....so...with that in mind...let me ask you...what do you think of when you hear the ringing of the bell? What is your attitude?
One additional disclaimer before we get into the heart of our message this morning...the scriptures that we will be looking at...they were not necessarily written to address the giving that occurs during the Christmas season...we are going to be looking at scripture out of First Corinthians and Second Corinthians today...and both passages....particularly the one in second Corinthians were written to address the giving that occurs here at church...but I have no problem applying them to our example because I think the principles are very much the same here....especially when we give during the season that we use to celebrate the birth of Christ....so although Paul wrote these verses to address the giving that occurred at the church in Corinth....I do not think he would have any problem with our applying them to Christmas...especially when so many of the charities we give to...the Salvation Army...Samaritan’s Purse...and the YMCA just to name a few...are Christian based. So, with all that being said...let’s examine some possible attitudes that we might have when we hear the ringing of the bell during this Christmas season. We will look at two that would probably be the wrong ones to have and then we’ll take a look at one that would be better.
The first guy....he really is kind of put out by this whole thing...he sees it as a big racket and con game...so as he walks into Wal-Mart or wherever one might go to shop.... and he hears the bell...his thoughts may go like this:
"Are they out here already? It’s not even Thanksgiving yet! Man...I can’t believe how early they keep getting...one of these days they’ll be out here after Halloween..then Labor Day...it never stops!!! Well...I better dig here in my pocket and find a nickel or something to throw in there so they won’t hassle me and I won’t appear to be stingy...but...I really have to admit that I wish they just wouldn’t be there during Christmas....I don’t like the pressure they put on me."
Nice attitude...huh? But, if we are all honest....deep down inside at some point in our lives we have done exactly that...given because we felt that we were pressured to do so.
Let me give you an example that has nothing to do with Christmas but in which the same principle applies.
We have all heard of St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis...a wonderful, wonderful organization that is deserves every bit of support that they get. This year they had an event called Country, Cars, and Kids. Basically, it was a concert that was held to raise money for the hospital...well I went and it was a pretty good show...which was highlighted by Kevin Sharp I thought...I got to talk to him a little bit and he was a super nice guy. Anyway...they had this drawing....they had sold these raffle tickets and the drawing was for some money...maybe 1,000 dollars or something like that. Anyway...the guy doing the drawing...I won’t mention his name because you might know him....he draws the winning name and has the guy come up on the stage....and then the local "celebrity" who drew the name...he asks the winner....what are you going to do with the money? Take your wife out? Buy something? Or, maybe give it back to St. Jude because they are such a wonderful organization. Now, this guy is standing on the stage with maybe two thousand people out in the audience...what is he supposed to do now? He might have liked to take his wife out or buy something...or pay a bill that he was behind on....but...what other choice can he make but to give the money back? If he doesn’t he’s going to look like a greedy insensitive jerk....and he did, in fact give the money back to St. Jude. Again, I am not saying that they did not deserve it...it is a wonderful organization...but the pressure put on that guy was unreal.