We want to take a moment from Two Brothers in Christ Media and BETHEONE.CO, to wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! With the holidays upon us there's much to think about. It takes a lot of work to make them special and meaningful. Many warm memories and traditions.
One of the most important aspects (besides the food) is the gifts.
Everyone’s approach is different. We worry about different things: Will they like it? Will it fit? How much (or what) does the item truly cost us?
However it looks in your life, few things reveal more about our character than our gift giving. How do we compare to Jesus’ approach and what are the important differences between how we give and how Jesus gave?
What do His heart and actions say? Meditate on the passages referenced to get even more from this discussion. Here are some of the key differences:
We put too much emphasis on the amount of money spent. In many ways Jesus taught the best gifts don’t have monetary value. They don’t always fit under a tree or look the way they should.
We also differ on planning. Some have had Christmas purchased since August of last year. Others buy their gift on the way to give it. No matter how far ahead we organize or buy the gift, God has known for all eternity what gift to give. Before we ever even needed it, (or were even created) He knew exactly what it would take. 1 Peter 1:20; John 1:1;17:24.
One of the worst atrocities is the “exchange”. Few things ruin or undermine value more than when gifts are obligatory or forced? If we each buy a $10.00 gift and trade, we turn $10.00 into something we will never use or look at. Could this be better spent? In contrast, God always gives willingly, joyfully and gladly. Isaiah 53:10; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Luke 12:32; Matthew 5:41
Next there’s the joke. Gag gifts...secret Santa...white elephant. Should giving be a meaningless game? God takes gifts seriously and always gives the best. There is never any waste. Matthew 7:11; James 1:17; 1 Peter 1:19
We like wrapped gifts. We like things. We like material and substance. Sometimes the best gift is ourselves; our heart, time and resources. Christ gave Himself for us and we should give to others. Matthew 10:8; Romans 8:32; Galatians 1:4 and Titus 2:14.
We tend to only give at set times like Christmas and birthdays. God gives all the time. Every day.
Some perceive that trendy or expensive gifts are greater. Little things that cost nothing can be much better than one big expensive gift: a compliment or kind word, smile, hug or listening ear.
Another major difference is we fail to forgive. Releasing another person from the prison in which we put them takes a lot of strength. God forgives abundantly and commands we do the same. Ephesians 4:32 Luke 6:37 Mark 11:25
Similarly we can’t give gifts to others with unforgiveness or bitterness in our heart. It ruins the best intentions and God won't be pleased. Forgive and be reconciled before. Matthew 5:23
We give to get and expect a return. Jesus said it is more blessed to give than receive. Give to those who can’t repay and love those who don’t love you back. Even those who don’t deserve it. Likewise we could never repay Jesus anyway. Acts 20.35 2 Corinthians 9:7; Luke 6:34; Matthew 5:44-48; Luke 3:11
Some gifts come in disguise. They aren’t wrapped like what or who we’re expecting. Some try to guess what's inside by the shape of the box, by how heavy it is or by shaking it. Be careful. It’s easy to miss God this way. What does an angel look like? Hebrews 13:2
We have our notions of what we want. What if it doesn’t work like that? Sometimes we think what we're going through can't possibly be what God had in mind.
We like acknowledgement and credit. We trumpet things and announce for all to see and hear what we gave or what a good thing we did for someone. Be secretive and let your Father in secret see it. We overlook many of God's blessings every day. Matthew 6:18
Give thanks. To God and to each other. Gratitude is free. Psalm 106:1
The gift doesn’t have to be something extra or unnecessary. It can be food or a warm coat. Many lack even basic necessities. James 2:16 Matthew 10:42
We know that Jesus is a gift to us from God. What you may not know is that WE are also a gift from God to His Son. Jesus had much to gain by His act of love. Hebrews 12:2.
A few more passages on God's gifts for you to check out: 1 John 5:11; 2 Corinthians 9:15; Galatians 3:22; John 3:16-18; James 1:17; 1 Corinthians 2:9,12
We know God gave His only Son, Jesus to die for our sins. We know we were promised wonderful things and how good the Father is. What needs to be stressed, however is that you have to receive the gift. You can't refuse it and still enjoy it and God will never force you to take it. He is a choice you must make. Joel 3:14; Deuteronomy 30:19; John 1:12; Romans 10:9
Jesus is not an overnight thing. He is for the rest of your life. He’s not a religion or a “belief”. He is very real and wants to live in your heart (Revelation 3:20). He is not a set of rules or a box to check. It is one foot in front of the other. One day at at time. Always learning and growing.
We also don't do it on our own with our own power. He helps us serve Him. The first step is to come to Him. Would you pray this prayer from your heart? “Dear Jesus, come into my heart. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead to save me. I receive you as my Savior. Be Lord of my life In your precious name I pray. Amen.”