Last night at our Middle School Ministry, I asked my students, “What’s the first thing you think of when someone says Christmas?” I then proceeded to write their quick-fire answers on a flip chart. As you would expect, the list included items such as: presents, food, cookies, family, Jesus, Santa, carols, among many others.
From the list of about 30 or more items, I asked then to narrow the list down with, “What is the best thing about Christmas?” Presents quickly rose as the number one item. No surprise there.
I think for most people, even in the church, some of the first responses we think about when it comes to Christmas, is receiving gifts. We like getting gifts. New toys, video games, clothes, electronics, books, DVD, CD’s, you name it, if it can be wrapped and topped with a bow, we get excited.
When we think about Christmas we think about the fun stuff, the stories, the decorations, and even the birth of Jesus, but getting gifts is still something that tops our list of what’s best at Christmas. Even when we tell the story of Jesus’ birth, we often spin it as God’s gift to us and as being the best gift we could GET.
But the gift is more than us receiving it. I think the best part of the gift is in the giving.
I also asked my students< "How many of you made your Christmas List?" The response was unanimous. Everyone put together some sort of list of items they were hoping to get this Christmas. Atop the lists for most, new iPhone/cell phone/iPod devices.
Every year we do it, don’t we? We make a list of the things we want to get for Christmas. I have a list. Do you want to hear it? Star Wars Saga on Blu-Ray, Gift Cards &/or cash for a new MAC BookPro.
Are these lists bad?
No. Not it themselves. We want things because by nature we are people who want stuff. On top of that, the culture in America has conditioned us to associate Christmas with getting gifts. So that’s what we do. We ask for the things we want, hoping to get gifts.
But then I asked the students, “How many of you have written your Christmas Giving List?” As expected, the response was, “What is that?”
And that was my point. We don’t always think about Christmas as a time to give things. It’s a time to get things. But what happened a little more than 2000 years ago?
God gave us a gift.
Christmas is many things. Yeah, it’s the time when we stop and celebrate the birth of Christ. But have you ever stopped and thought about what it meant for God to give us the gift He gave?
A couple of weeks ago in Sunday School, we held a Q&A with Jay Session, and we talked a lot about sin? We said how sin came as the man chose his own pride and wants instead of obeying God. And now, that sin plagues man.
But the Bible says our sin leads to death? Romans 6:23a reads, “For the wages of sin is….DEATH…”
Yeah, our sins lead us to death. And not just a physical death; Oh, I’m dead. It leads to eternal separation from God.
But Romans 6:23 doesn’t stop there does it? No, it goes on to say, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Christmas is the fulfillment of the promise God made in the garden that someone would come to redeem the people of God. Jesus was the gift that God gave. Christmas is as much, if not more, about giving as it is about receiving.
What are you giving this Christmas?
The Bible is pretty clear about the importance of being a people committed to giving. In a number of occasions, Jesus speaks specifically to the act of living as giving people and the danger we face when we choose not to give as freely as we are called.
I want to challenge you this year to think about Christmas as a time not just for getting, but for giving.
Look around. Look for opportunities to give. What might be some ways you could give this Christmas?