The tradition of giving gifts at Christmas time dates back to St. Nicholas in 4th century Turkey. Beyond that, it goes back to the three Wise Men who presented the gifts of gold, frankenscence, and myrrh to Jesus shortly after his birth (Matthew 2:1-12). Whatever the origins, gift giving has become one of the most cherished traditions of our Christmas celebrations. Yesterday during our morning worship service, quite a few people presented their gifts and talents before the Lord in worship to Him and it was beautiful. The whole service consisted of children and adults singing songs, performing dances, playing instruments, and coming together in choirs to give praise to Jesus. It was really beautiful and demonstrates how God has gifted us with amazing talent in our church.
As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that whether in song, art, dance, music, poetry/writing, speaking, serving, working, or making things with our hands, God has gifted us to give praise to Him. The first way that we do that is with our lives. God has blessed us with life, strength, imaginations, talents, experiences, and resources. Will we present them back to Him as gifts or will we use them for ourselves? Christmas should be a time to worship Jesus for what He has given to us – Himself. How do we give ourselves back to Him and back to others, even to the point of sacrifice?
What gifts will we give to Jesus this year? How might we lay our lives down before Him and serve Him with gratitude and thanksgiving? What can we give to Him and to others? What would it cost us to truly serve God and serve others? If He is the Giver of Every Good and Perfect Gift, then whatever we give to Him and others came from Him in the first place. How can we excel in the "grace of giving"?
I think that if Christians truly excelled in the grace of giving (time, energy, resources, talents, etc.), it would be the best way to demonstrate the person and work of Jesus, the greatest giver of all. As we give presents to one another this year, could we think about what Jesus has given to us and how we can respond to Him by giving our lives back to Him and in turn, to others?
What would 2010 look like if we truly lived with open hands, giving as we have received?