The dominoes of Christmas giving

Trinity Pres Church copy

I do not know when you’ve seen it, but somewhere you likely have. A line of dominoes stacked on end start to tumble, and one domino hits another, and there’s no going back …

I LOVE Christmas. That much is the same. But as a kid, I loved the build-up to the big day of getting. And as my parents are generous, I often got a lot. But, praise God for His grace in my life; somewhere early in marriage or parenting, it all flipped over, and I fell in love with giving. I love the looks of surprise or delight when someone opens a package or receives a gift!

What I hope to convey is outside of concern about over-commercialization. What I want to confess is the power of selfishness, and what I want to testify to is the power of Jesus to change a selfish heart.

The story of Christmas is so amazing precisely because of how selfish we are and knowing that Jesus came anyway! I shudder to think of just how selfish I have been, I am, or could be. If fact, I think God’s Word is clear that the motive for Jesus’ coming was driven precisely by His compassion in the face of how wrong, broken, and helpless we really are.

Jesus was foretold to Mary and Joseph, coupled with the command to name Him Jesus, because “He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). With immeasurable mercy, Jesus came. “For God so loved the world that He gave… His only begotten Son.” (John 3:16) “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32)

So the shift starts with bad news — the bad news of coming to grips with our guilt, wreckage, and inability to save ourselves before God’s holy justice. And the dominos tumble. The gift of Christmas sparks the art of Christmas giving. Jesus taught us in Matthew 10 it is as we freely receive His grace first that gives rise to freely giving to others.

One of the best gift-givers I know said he thinks of what someone would love to have but would be hesitant to spend to have. That is the sweet spot he looks for. But driving all of his gift-giving is a profoundly generous heart — and he would testify that his heart has been changed by Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:8 God is able to make all grace abound to you so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work… 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God… 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

1 Timothy 6:18 do good… be rich in good works… be generous and ready to share.

So who in your life needs your generosity? If you think of yourself as a Christian, how do you need the Holy Spirit’s work to expand in your heart just how generous God has been to you in Christ? And then, can you catch a vision for how your generosity could grow?

Who needs child care for a much-needed night out? Who needs a dinner and space just to unwind? Who needs a letter — a hand-written letter (!) to encourage them in their walk with God? Or in the tangible gift department, what is something that a loved one would enjoy but would be reluctant to spend to have? Could you spend that and then marvel as their joy becomes your joy?

Merry Christmas!