Dec 14, 2010

Does Our Giving Have Strings Attached? - An Evaluation of Christmas Gifts

I saw a sign at a coffee shop today that said Think Like Santa, Be Like Santa.  It got me thinking about what that would look like. Now, I know that their point was for me to buy the stuff on the display and then to give it to other people, but it made me think about it deeper as the day went on.

In the song Santa Claus is Coming to Town we are told to be good, not pout, and even not to cry.  Why? Well, the easy answer is to keep kids out of their parent's hair by giving them an incentive to do good, but the real answer separates Santa Claus from the true meaning of Christmas.  Don't get me wrong I am not a Santa-Basher.  I understand the validity of giving gifts.  After all God gave us Jesus, the Wisemen gave Jesus gifts, and gift giving can honor the entire tradition.  What differs is why we are giving.  Is it because they are good to us, or because we love them?  Is Christmas a time for legalistic strings attached giving, or selfless love expecting nothing in return?

Before Jesus came we were under the law (a system of dos and do nots).  This system allowed people to see that we could never be good enough without God's direct intervention.  This is what Christmas is all about.  Romans 5:8  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  God did not give us a gift because we had been good, but because we had been bad.  

We were God's enemies without his gift.  Romans 5:10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.  The good news is that God does not hate his enemies like people do, but instead  he has love for them.   Matthew 5:44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!  And his love is the very message of Christmas (John 3:16). 

This Christmas let us remember that he sees us when we're sleeping, he knows when we're awake, he knows when we are bad or good and he loved us enough to give us the gift of eternal life anyway!  Now that is the Christmas spirit.  Would you give your enemy a gift for Christmas?   Think about it, God did it and it changed the world.  

Luke 6:32-35
“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!  And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much!  And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.
“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.

What would change if we lived that way?  Would it change you, your enemy, or would it change the world by mirroring what God desires for humanity?

1 comment:

One who has been changed said...

Well put, Jesus is indeed the reason for the season. Merry Christmas to you and all who visit your blog.