Gift-Giving: THE Christmas Tradition

by Lester Young

“Christmas is such a headache! Big Business has commercialized the entire Season and continues to try to systematically remove ‘Christ’ from the issue altogether by pushing such monikers as ‘Merry X-mas’ and ‘Happy Holidays’ as generic replacements. Shopping crowds, heavy traffic, more crowds, less parking spaces and, oh yeah, even larger crowds. It’s nothing but a great, big hassle. And now people are literally ‘dying’ to be the first to get their hands on the newest Black Friday toys, electronic gadgets and Nikes. Everyone’s lost their &/*# minds! Bah humbug!!”

Although pretty much factual, the above tirade in no way represents my own personal feelings about Christmas. I happen to love it: it’s the best time of the year. Even in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, you always find more people willing to give you a smile, a hello or a Season’s greeting. (Unfortunately, many of those are the same folks who at any other time of the year wouldn’t even bother to look at you – but that’s neither here nor there for right now.) Sure, every year seems to get busier and more crowded, even when the previous year we thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse. But just because things get hectic doesn’t mean we have to personally get lost in all the fuss. As a matter of fact, if you find yourself getting flustered and frustrated with the whole thing, you’ve already lost sight of the point.

What is the point? C’mon, I’m sure you already know that. The entire encapsulated point of the Christmas season can be seen within John 3:16-17, which declares:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but would have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it; but [He sent Him] so that the world through His Son would be saved.”

Did you catch it? Although the full passage indeed illustrates our Salvation from start to finish, the first nine words of it offer a very telling view of our Christian tradition of ‘grace’: “For God sooo loved the world that He gave…!” God is Love, and Love gives (1 John 4:8, 16). It does so because It simply has to: It’s so full of good will and benevolence that It just can’t contain it – It has to express Itself. That’s the perfect description of God’s sentiment and longing toward us (Luke 2:13-14; Ephesians 2:4-7).

Giving. It’s a God-given feeling and a God-given action – and that means it’s an expression of Love. And Love – just like every other spiritual fruit – is acted on by choice (Galatians 5:22-23). In other words, It’s totally one-sided. Love doesn’t give in order to get. It gives strictly for the sake of giving – just like God’s original offer of grace (or ‘giving’) to Abram, which had no “strings” attached. All Abram had to do was receive it and believe that God would do what He promised to (Genesis 12:1-3, 15:1-6; Romans 4:13-16).

Don’t lose sight of the simplicity of this Holiday Season. Give just like God does: in the sincerity of your heart and with no strings attached (Matthew 6:1-4; 1 John 4:17). Give out of what you have, not out of what you don’t (2 Corinthians 8:12). And take great joy in remembering that giving is a Love-based action, and as such it’s a direct product of God’s very own character. It’s where our Christmas gift-giving tradition comes from.

As for the “bah humbug!” part of the Season: Nobody’s holding a gun to your head to make you venture out with the crazies on Black Friday. Just stay home and have another couple of pieces of pie. Trust me: whatever sells out that first day will be back in stock within a week anyway.

Have a very Merry Christmas and an exceedingly blessed New Year!

 

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