In Isaiah 9:2-7, we have one of the most popular single passages heard in our churches during the Christmas season. Verse 6 tells us "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (NKJV) Let's focus on the beginning of that verse " unto us a Son is GIVEN " (emphasis added). From this we embrace Christmas as a celebration centering on a gift.
And so we spend the holidays giving to others. We even call this season the "season of giving." I've often wondered is it really? Now don't get me wrong. It is a VERY good thing for us to give. We could all use 'more' times when we are 'less' self centered. I just wonder if our giving actually reveals a joyful and selfless heart or if it reveals something else.
Given the state of things in our world today, many will experience this Christmas season cautiously because money is tight. I'm sure we've all been in family situations where the adults in the family agree that all gift buying, and giving, will be for the children only. Then, there's always that one person who, contrary to the agreement, gets you something. I ask you, how does that make you feel? Or perhaps there are other settings when you are surprised by someone with a gift. Is your first reaction joy and appreciation or is it "but I didn't get you anything." Does your inability give a gift 'in exchange' make you uncomfortable?
Yes, Christmas is a wonderful time and giving should be a part of that. We hold dear the scripture in Act 20:35 (NKJV) where we are told, " It is more blessed to give than to receive." But is this a season of gift 'giving' or just gift 'exchanging?' While it is VERY good to think outside of yourself and to support those who may be struggling, are you able to receive a gift simply as a gift? Or when you receive a gift from someone for whom you don't have a gift, do you feel you now owe them? Is our gift giving nothing more than making sure we're all even?
Jesus came to us as a little baby as a gift from heaven. There are many things we may do as a result of that gift but the first thing we must learn to do is to receive it. It is a gift we can never repay and one for which we will never be worthy. But it's a gift! Our initial response must be to embrace and receive itto make it our own!
Let's be honest, most times when we feel that need to exchange gifts or repay someone for their generosity, it's because of pride. Now, the scripture does state that, " God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7b NKJV). Yet, I have become convinced that we will never be able to truly GIVE with joy and cheerfulness until we are able to RECEIVE with joy and cheerfulness. Our ability to receive from others also reveals how much we acknowledge our dependence on God and, like it or not, on others too. We can't make it alone. None of us is self-sufficient!
During this Christmas season, we celebrate the birth of a Saviorour Prince of Peace. Receive His love and embrace the gift God extended toward us in Him. Be sure to give freely, and without obligation, to others. Just make sure you also receive in that same way. Merry Christmas!
Hiram Claudio is a minister and bible teacher who has traveled to 8 nations spreading the Good News of faith in Christ and victory through His name. He is married (for 29 years). He and his wife live in New York and have two sons.
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