Many say that giving is better than receiving. It is reported that America is the most giving country when a disaster strikes or a when a need exists anywhere around the globe. During the Christmas season, we shop till we drop, buying gifts for loved ones.
Giving comes from the heart. We love to give. It’s a good thing. If our giving alleviates troubles, lightens hearts, of just brings a smile to someones face, we feel great.
But what do we give God?
This is His birthday celebration after all. Christmas would not exist as a holiday if not for the birth of Christ.
Though many would like to consider Christmas a “secular” holiday, you can’t. Sorry. Doesn’t work like that.
One can secularize Christmas in their heart, stripping any thoughts of the celebration of our Savior’s birth…but that doesn’t cease to make December 25th a religious “holy-day” any more than declaring that the Fourth of July is not about celebrating, in the spirit of freedom, our country’s independence.
So, given that Christmas is the celebration of our Lord’s birth and we all love to give, again…
…what ARE we giving to God this Christmas?
That begs the question, what does God want? After all, He has everything. He says, “for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” Psalm 50:10 (NIV).
But…there must be one small gift we can offer the Lord on His birthday.
Though there’s no Christmas list from God, we do have Holy Scripture as a guide. I found a few verses in the Bible regarding giving:
Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; Proverbs 3:9
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you. Deuteronomy 16:17
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Malachi 3:10
Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return. Luke 6:38
Those verses speak about our tithe and how we should give it, but let’s look further…what does God really want from us?
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” Revelation 4:11
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1
“He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:23
Getting closer…but this one really nails what I think God wants from us:
Give me your heart, my son, And let your eyes delight in my ways. Proverbs 23:26
God wants our hearts! Whew! But maybe that’s a big thing, a tough thing to give. Maybe it’s too hard to consider giving our guarded hearts to God. Maybe we feel let down by God in the past, hurt, wounded. Maybe our hearts are just to fragile to give away…what if they break…what if God doesn’t love us?
Take a look at the manger scene and from there raise your eyes to the cross. God does love us. He gave His son for us, born as a baby from a virgin. Mary said yes to Angel Gabriel and by the power of the Holy Spirit, The Word Made Flesh and dwelt among us. God offered His Son as a Sacrifice for our Sin. He does love us.
This Christmas, let’s consider one specific offering…even a small one, from our hearts. Not sure what to give, specifically? Pray. Ask Him. Seek Him and what He would like from you for Christmas.
It can be anything, even giving up a bad habit, or beginning a new practice that honors Him, or whatever you feel God would like as a gift from you…maybe even taking a small step toward giving your whole heart to Him. He does promise that by doing so, we will “delight” in His ways.
Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; Hebrews 12:28
Sometimes, even showing up is a gift, the beginning of giving God what He truly wants from us–our hearts.
So this Christmas, show up in His Holy Temple, in His Church and kneel before His Presence and lay down your gift at the Altar.
At St. James Anglican Church, we celebrate Christmas with Lesson and Carols at 10:30 pm and then we have the celebration of the Christ Mass at midnight. I pray that many will come..and lay their gifts before The King.