/ 5.12.13 / No comments /
The Heart of Joyful Gift Giving
A reader from Primitive Homestead brought up a very important problem that we often have to deal with at Christmas--the promotion of materialism. It is sad that gift giving sometimes comes down to just the price tag, the brand name or even one-upping others by our gifts.
But we can take a different approach to gift-giving
--it's all up to the giver.
There is no question that stores promote the 'love of stuff' to a degree that could leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth. I'm sure it's a bigger problem here than in any other country on the planet!
That being said though, I do think that it is important to reflect on the true meaning of giving at Christmas.. at least what I see as the real meaning behind giving gifts.
In many ways God set the example of gift giving by giving his Son's life.. for us. In fact, he commanded us to 'love one another as I have loved you'. Regardless of why we celebrate His birth by giving gifts to others, the fact is that giving to others in the right spirit is always a good thing!
It takes a certain amount of unselfishness to give anything to anyone. There is something just intrinsically good for the soul in giving. :)
Here's what the bible says about giving...
God Loves a Cheerful Giver
… Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;…
Admittedly, this refers to giving to God and to those in need.. but if our hearts are right, we can give to others in His name and it is the same thing. We should do everything as 'unto the Lord and not unto men.'.. even in giving Christmas gifts. Generosity is always praised in scripture.. and selfishness, or stinginess is always condemned.
Even if we have two coats...the bible says we should share with someone who has none. I have been trying to put that into practice. I found out very quickly that I don't like giving as much as I thought I did. lol I had to learn to be more selfless--it sure doesn't come naturally. I wrote about that struggle on my devotional blog on a post called--Surrendering my love of money.
I can remember times when gift giving at Christmas seemed like a daunting task.. especially when we had so little.. and it was hard not to feel embarrassed or pained at our lack of 'splash'. Still, as I tried to teach my children, giving is good for everyone and regardless of how little we have, we can always give a little. :)
Otherwise some people might spend every year just being selfish with their stuff. I do hate how businesses capitalize on that by promoting stuff to the point of materialism, but that shouldn't ruin the heart of our holiday giving.
Giving gifts is a love language and something mentioned often in the bible. God loves giving gifts to men. And He commanded us to love one another as He loved us and to emulate him. He gives freely to us and wants us to give freely to others.
Jesus himself said, give to him that asks of thee, and to him that would borrow.. turn not away. In another passage, he says our Heavenly Father gives good things to those who ask .. not to consume on our own 'passions' but still.. giving to others is a beautiful way to show God's love.. and what better time than Christmas?
However, it is sad that it's been so commercialized. We are challenged by the Lord to give to those who cannot give back and for many Christian families, we consider Christmas the best time of the year to do that. Angel Tree, Operation Christmas Child, Salvation army, needy folks in our neighborhood and church.. are all ways to do that.
But just to give simple gifts from the heart to those we love, once or twice a year, could never be a bad thing. Our gifts for others don't have to be expensive.. but always say--you are special in my life and I want to bless you. :)
If you are giving from the heart, and you love the Lord with all your heart, then you need not fear that there is anything at all wrong with gift-giving at Christmas time.
So even if the world commercializes it, and tries to change the name from Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays.. I for one am glad because for so many Christians this is one chance of all others..like Easter.. to share the good news without any compunction whatsoever. Many more ears are open to that truth at this time than any other.
My prayer, is that we can demonstrate to the world, the true spirit of Christian love by giving in such a way, that the recipient knows he is loved with uncommon love.. in a way that honors the God of the bible and not the 'god' of this world.
Our family has always been careful to give as we have been blessed through the year. We have never had much in the way of funds, but we gave the best we could.. without any desire or need to give the perfect gift or to give beyond our means.. which would not be a blessing to anyone.
As I'm sure my readers know, giving is a chance to think about and care for someone else and say I love you in a tangible way. It really is the thought that counts. This year I tried to give a lot more thought to my gifts. That way they truly were a blessing. The pottery above was purchased from art students on our college campus for $4-7 per item. I am giving them to our Deacons at church as a thank you for all their faithful service all year.
Some of the best gifts have more to do with heart and thought than time... gifts of service, photographs and videos for loved ones living far away, gifts that grow, or handmade gifts. Sometimes we even have to be a bit sneaky and find out.. what does that person like to do.. what makes them smile.
This year, I tried to focus on only one person or family per shopping day as I hunted for gifts, so that I could give them my whole heart and attention. It really did change my perspective on gift giving. :)
May the Lord help you to give in His name for the sake of blessing those who receive your gifts and may you be double blessed by having a joyful attitude as you do so. Be sure to find someone who won't be getting gifts or is in need too. Such a wonderful way to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.
Happy Homemaking and Merry Christmas!