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QUICK SUMMARY: In recent years, Christmas has gone full throttle into being all about getting stuff. It is all about the next big gadget and the coolest most expensive toy that ALL the kids are talking about. It is no wonder many people are starting to dread the consumerism of it all and want to cut back. But do we stop giving all together, or is there a better way? This week in the Advent Conspiracy series, Pastor Will talked about “Giving More”. But wait, we just talked about spending less last week! You are right but give more is not about giving more expensive and extravagant gifts or giving in more volume. It is about giving more of yourself.
In the book The Advent Conspiracy they suggest giving relationally. In this article I want to give you three examples from people in my life. People who have exemplified the heart of Jesus in their Christmas giving.
Examples of Relational Giving
- Intentional Giving – heart of a creator
- Thoughtful Giving – heart of a father
- Sacrificial Giving – heart of a savior
Looking for more? Keep reading!
Written By Kendra Hamby
GO DEEPER: (Read QUICK SUMMARY first.) Let me first say that giving at Christmas does not have to distract from the good news of Jesus. The reason we celebrate Christmas is because we are celebrating the birth of our savior, God’s son GIVEN to us for our salvation. So, when we give relationally as our father in heaven did, we are remembering his gift and sacrifice. We are loving others more than ourselves, just as he did. We may not be giving our life or our only child, but it is still representative and meaningful if done with the right heart.
1. Intentional Giving
Every year, everyone in my family makes a reasonable Christmas list which is then distributed accordingly. Every year my sister goes off script! She does not do this because she’s that family member who makes everyone an ugly sweater and a fruit cake and calls it a day. She does it because it brings her joy to get you something you were not expecting, something that is meaningful and intentional. Alanna’s gifts always send the message that she knows you intimately, that she listens to your passions and hobbies, and that you are important to her. She often shops on Etsy because things there are quirky and handmade, they are things you do not just run into Walmart and grab the week before. Her gifts often embody you as a person. They are an outward expression of the beauty and passion she sees inside you. If you like Harry Potter she will not just buy you a Harry Potter mug. She will find out what house you are in, the wand you would use, and what your Patronus is. Then she will use that information and somehow find you the perfect gift for your Hogwarts alter ego.
She gives with the heart of a creator who knows who he made you to be and knows what you need.
Alanna gives with intentionality, with you at the forefront of her thoughts. She then sits back and watches the joy and excitement when you open that gift and realize that at least one person in this world has been listening to you and understands you. She gives with the heart of a creator who knows who he made you to be and knows what you need.
2. Thoughtful Giving
The second example I want to use is my Aunt Kim. My mom’s sister has frequently bought Christmas gifts throughout the year. This is not just allowing her to spread out her spending, which is a wise financial move. This is something that happens more organically. As she is going about her business, Kim will see something that reminds her of someone she loves. Often her gifts come with stories of where she was when she found it or why it made her think of you. You always knew Aunt Kim loved you and was thinking of you often. Beyond that, she gives gifts that are representative. Frequently we receive gifts that symbolize a season of life we are in or have been in, or something God is doing.
Kim gives with thought. She, like Alanna, knows and cares deeply for those she is buying for and that is reflected in what she gives.
She gives with the heart of our heavenly father who thinks about us and has numbered the hairs on our heads.
3. Sacrificial Giving
The last example I would like to give is my son Kaleb. Kaleb does not get an allowance because we can not really afford it. Because of this, he very rarely has money to spend on gifts. It is not like any of us expect him to buy us gifts. But I learned early on with him that writing his name on a gift I bought just will not cut it. Giving gifts at Christmas is very important to him and he will not accept taking credit for another person’s gift. It has to be from him. Kaleb would give you the shirt off his back if he thought you needed it more, or liked it more, or just liked it… or really just hinted at liking it! You get my point. If Kaleb does not have money he will go into his own room and find a trinket or make you a personalized Lego guy. He will give away his own belongings so that you know he did not forget you at Christmas.
On the off chance he has been gifted money around Christmas for something fun he will opt for buying presents rather than using it on himself. These are usually small silly things because he does not want to leave anyone out and so has to spread the money thin. But they are always from the heart and always, in sometimes unconventional ways, connected to the person he is giving it to.
Kaleb gives sacrificially. He gives out of what he has because giving is more important than holding on to stuff or money.
He gives with the heart of a savior who sent his only son so that we might be free.
God Gave Relationally
I have been moved to tears on more than one occasion by the gifts of these three people. I cried because I recognized the intent, thought, and sacrifice behind the gifts. Have you stopped lately to think about the gift of salvation God gave to each of us? Sending his son exhibited all of these things and more.
God’s gift was intentional. He wanted to give us a way to him, he knew we would sin and would need a way home. God’s gift was thoughtful. God was thinking of us, he cares about us, individually. Though there are 99 safe, he leaves the one to come get us. God’s gift was sacrificial. God’s one and only son was given in exchange for us, so that we might have life and life more abundantly.
If we give from the right heart, we will be spreading the love of God to the world. How can you give relationally this season?
If you feel you would like to talk to someone about questions or struggles this article may have surfaced for you, go to the Two Rivers Counseling Center’swebsite and look around at what we do, or go directly to the “Get Counseling” request form HERE.