Some years ago I came upon a Christmas story about giving that caused me to reflect about ‘A Different Kind of Christmas Giving.’ First the story, then some thoughts . . .
In the fourth year of his layoff from his job, Dad gave Mom a dishwasher for Christmas. You have to understand the magnitude of the gift: Our old house had its original wiring and plumbing and neither could handle the required installation. There was no spot in the small kitchen for such a large appliance. And we hadn’t even been able to meet the mortgage interest payments for over six months.
But Dad hated the thought of washing dishes; he would rather do anything else. And Mom had undergone major surgery that spring, a radical mastectomy for breast cancer and found it difficult to do any work requiring the use of her arms.
No large box appeared, no new plumbing or wiring was installed, no remodeling of the kitchen occurred. Rather, a small note appeared on a branch of the Christmas tree, handwritten by Dad:
“For one year, I will wash all of the dirty dishes in this household. Every one.” And he did. He really did. (By Judy Rogers)
As I reflected on this story I began to realize that here was a man giving a different kind of Christmas gift – himself! It got me thinking and I realized that people give things – presents, money, etc and then by contrast how God gives people. Think of some of the examples of God giving people as gifts in scripture. In the Genesis story God recognized Adam was alone. Ever thought what God could have given Adam? Maybe a sports car to drive around in, a camera to take pictures, a DVD, an ipod or ipad. No, God gave Adam a special gift – a person Eve.
Likewise in the course of Biblical history God was so often meeting people’s need through the gift of a man or a woman called to accomplish His purposes. People like Moses, David, Nehemiah, Esther and the like.
The greatest example of God giving the gift of a person is in salvation. God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son (John 3:16). At Christmas time we celebrate the gift of a baby – Jesus.
Likewise at Pentecost, God sent the person of the Holy Spirit to empower, lead and guide, comfort and fill us with himself. And the gift goes on. Jesus gave gifts to the church – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11). He gave gifts of men who were to be gifts to the church.
Finally in the climax of history God will send His son again in what we call ‘The Second Coming;’ to do what only He can do. The ultimate hope of the world is the coming of the King.
See the contrast – people give gifts of all kinds and God gives people. Note – we need both and God does give both. But, like God, let us not limit our giving to material things, money or presents. Let’s give ourselves.
Let me give one simple practical example. I like to support the Salvation Army especially at Christmas time. I will always try to put something in the Red Kettle. What am I doing? I giving something – in this case money. My daughter and her children have started a new tradition by giving themselves. On Christmas Eve for four or so hours they ring the bells for the Salvation Army Red Kettle outside a local grocery store. What are they doing? They are giving of themselves.
May all of us be led of the Lord to see how we ourselves can be gifts, giving of ourselves and our time to serve the Lord and the needs of others. Remember ‘People give things but God gives people’ so let’s follow His example and bless other people this Christmas and into the New Year by giving ourselves.
Merry Christmas everyone!