Getting to Give
Posted by Jim Grieme
A friend of mine who was an amateur astronomer used to mention something to which he referred to as “seasonal creep.” He told me that the local astronomy club had studied about a twenty-year cycle and found that the seasons were “shifting” to later and later in the calendar year.
Even I could remember that as a child we would often get snow before Halloween. As I grew older the snows often did not come until the middle of December, with the strongest storms in January; over the past five-to-ten years I have also noticed that cool weather would also continue until early June.
Of course, anyone who ever enters our malls and shopping centers can attest to this seasonal creep as well! Halloween decorations appear near the first of September. Christmas arrives (at least in the stores) even before the end of October. I believe the main reason for this is a hope by retailers that people will begin to “get into the holiday mood” when they see the seasonal decorations.
The amazing thing is the amount of stuff that can be gotten during this time of year! When I was a child, our family did not have much “disposable” income: we always had plenty of food, clothes and basic necessities, but the things that my brothers and sisters just “wanted” were reserved for Christmas—and even then, we did not get everything we wanted!
In Acts 20:35, the Apostle Paul in his farewell address to the Ephesians, reminded them of his desire to serve the Ephesian believers and demonstrate his obedience to the words of Christ: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” While Paul desired to live out who Jesus was in his life, Paul never taught that getting was wrong or evil; yet Jesus merely pointed out to him that giving provided a greater blessing.
Thankfully, those of us who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, serve a God who freely gives us all the things of which we have need! From the beginning of the Bible in Genesis, we witness a God who created this world and then chose to give it to Adam and Eve to enjoy.
God later in Exodus gave his people the Ten Commandments so they would be able to have a relationship with a holy God. Later, God gave David’s son Solomon the intelligence and imagination to build the Temple—thus giving His people a most holy place to maintain their relationship with Him. More importantly, John records the words of Christ in John 3:16 where we read that God loved the people of this world so much He gave His Son to be our sacrifice—and He also gave us His Spirit to prove we belong to Him!
“So should we deprive ourselves of material goods to be ‘better’ people?” No, that thought misses the point. Yet during this holiday season allow me to propose this: Jesus in Matthew 5-7, which is the Sermon on the Mount, stated those who truly “are” His would be both salt and light to those in this dark world. Those who are truly changed by God’s Spirit will also in turn demonstrate that change to those in this world.
We should remember the mantra that says, “A difference that makes no difference is not then different.” If we have been changed by God, that change must be evident in our lives.
So, what about giving being better than receiving? We serve a God who gives! While God gives, not everyone receives; the gift is there, it is offered but few take it. Yet as God gives, and we in turn receive. Paul concludes in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that we are a new creation; our old lives, our old desires have been removed. True, we struggle with this, but we also must realize before accepting God’s gifts, we sinned because it was the natural thing to do. When we sin as a believer, it is an unnatural thing and we do it willfully and in rebellion to our Creator—unnaturally!
It all boils down to this: God gives, we get—but in this “getting” we in turn can give! This giving can be concrete (by imparting gifts to another), or it can be more abstract (by demonstrating how Christ has changed us through our actions). We are commanded to give through demonstrating our love for Christ through our obedience to Him and through our missional actions of going, doing and telling others about Jesus Christ.
If you think getting that hoped-for-gift would bring joy to your life, have you ever considered what it would feel like to give something of eternal value and everlasting consequences?
Posted in Apologetics
Tags: Apostle Paul, better, Christmas, demonstrating, deprive, Exodus, Feliz Navidad!, Fröhliche Weihnachten!, gave, Genesis, getting, giving, Jesus Christ, joyeux Noël, Lord, Merry Christmas!, missional, счастливого Рождества, sacrifice, Savior, seasonal creep, shifting, Spirit, Temple, Wesołych Świąt