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Give it up

The malls are full of shoppers looking for the perfect gift.  Or as we get this close to Christmas, any gift.  (I’m thinking that the advent of online shopping has got to bring immense relief to a claustrophobic.  Never had thought of Amazon.com as a purveyor of emotional peace before.)  I wasn’t even shopping for gifts today, yet I managed to visit both the post office and Costco today.  Did I experience the Christmas spirit?

Don’t even check your mail box or email if you can’t handle the flood of advertisements or a barrage of appeals directed at your year-end giving.  (Full disclosure: yes, our ministry was among them.  Just once though – not every five minutes.)  Hold on to your wallet and your checkbook before good intentions drag you into debt.

So Dave, is this the part where you insist something is wrong with my perspective and offer a different one?

Don’t get me wrong – I like gifts.  I’ve even been known to buy myself gifts [insert appropriate gasp of shock here.]  But here’s the deal:

  1. You can only give from what you have.  Affection, wisdom, experience, cash, whatever – if you don’t possess it, you can’t give it away.
  2. If they don’t want it, they’re not going to receive it.  (Favorite phrase on Christmas morning: “Oh, this is lovely…”)
  3. The truth is, you’re the ultimate re-gifter: nothing you have is really yours anyway.  What you were born with was a gift from God.  Everything you’ve earned is a blessing from Him too.  (See James 1:16-17)  So why are you holding on to everything so tightly?
Philip James "Jim" Elliott (Oct 8, 1927 – Jan 8, 1956)

God has already shown us that it’s better to give than to receive.  It just takes humanity longer to accept it.  (Though researchers have indeed found this to be true – see the Science Central Archive or the original study.)  He modeled true gift giving in Christmas and Easter – by giving Himself through His incarnation and redeeming us through His crucifixion and resurrection.  (How long we take to accept that is also up to us.)  As written in Romans 5:8, God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The best gift you can receive is Jesus.  He gave up His life for you.  The best gift you can give is the Gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ.  And the best way to give it is through your life.  Even if you have to give it up.  It isn’t yours anyway.

(In the words that Jim Elliott paraphrased from Scripture: He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.)