Post from Pastor Tim Dillmuth – Researchers (albeit researchers with a lot of time on their hands) have found that the cost of giving all the gifts from the famous “12 Days of Christmas” song now tops $107,000! They literally documented everything from a $190 pear tree to the most expensive item being the swans at $1000.00 each.
Granted, most people aren’t buying any lords-a-leaping or pipers-piping this year, but a boatload of money is still spent each year for the holidays. CNBC reports that on average, Americans spend 228.4 billion dollars on the holidays alone. Unfortunately, a good majority of that spending probably wouldn’t pass the flammability test, as Pastor Foley referred to in his last post.
As difficult as this is to hear for many of us (including me), I want to further the reach and scope of that flammability test to reach throughout the year to encompass all the gifts that we give!
One of the things we measure during the Month of Presentation is our giving. In other words, does our giving properly reflect the way that the Lord has given to us? And to answer that question we have to first understand the character of God’s giving.
Isaiah 9:6-7 is one of the many examples we have that points to the nature of God’s giving. In verse 6, we read that a “child is born and a son is given,” and we of course understand this child to be none other than Jesus Christ. But what we fail to recognize is that this prophecy actually encompasses three time periods . . . the present time of Isaiah, the time surrounding the birth of Christ and the future return of Jesus.
Without going over all the specifics of the prophetic fulfillments, I think it’s safe and accurate to say that God fulfilled this prophecy in each of the respective time periods. So, when you recognize that this gift encompasses more than just the birth of Christ, you begin to recognize something very special about the “gift of God” . . . this gift is a surety of Christ’s second coming, a pledge of his presence – in other words, God’s gift is an ongoing reminder that he is always with us for eternity!
You see, God’s gifts are never of the “one and done” variety, but they are always given within the context of a relationship with him, and are meant to serve as a reminder of his presence. Gifts from God are truly the kind of gifts that keep on giving!
So, how does our giving reflect that of God’s?
I’ll be the first to admit, that I often like to give gifts with “no-strings attached.” And when I say “no-strings attached,” I mean that I’m the one that’s not obligated to do anything else after I give the gift! I’ve done this with my missionary giving (given some money to a missionary that I have no intent of praying for or following-up with) or with my charitable giving (given food/money to a needy person simply hoping that they will leave me alone). These type of gifts fall woefully short of modeling Christ to those to whom I’m giving.
During this month of reflection, I would challenge you to examine the gifts that you gave this past year. But make sure that you don’t stop with only the reflecting. Consider giving a gift to someone this Christmas, which would act as a surety of your ongoing presence in the recipients’ life – a gift that would allow you to point to the ongoing presence of Christ in our world.