The Giving of Gifts
“Just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”
1 Corinthians 8:7
One of the most troublesome aspects of gift-giving is the materialism and commercialism that is so inextricably woven into the fabric of Christmas and the attendant pressure of giving gifts to others out of a sense of obligation, rather than freely out of love.
While we can all identify with such pressures, it is important to recognize that perversions do not in and of themselves invalidate the practice of giving gifts. As followers of the one who gave Himself for us, we ought to exult in the very notion of giving to others. As such, having the unique opportunity of giving to ministries that propagate the gospel, of giving to the downtrodden and oft-forgotten, and of giving to family members and friends should overwhelm us with joy—especially when there is no expectation of giving to get. Jesus’ teachings in this regard are instructive.
While dining at the house of a prominent Pharisee, Jesus admonished the guests (and presumably the host as well) saying, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:12–14). Far from suggesting that it is inappropriate to show kindness and generosity to family and friends, Jesus highlights the reality of genuine kindness and generosity motivated by love for others as opposed to the expectation of favor in return.
See more about Hank Hanegraaff's 25-day Christmas devotional here: The Heart of Christmas (Thomas Nelson, 2009)