Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas; What's in it for me?

I'm not much on the Christmas season. I'm not a scrooge. I just find it a trying time. Neither am one to get depressed, but I do get "down" at Christmastime. I don't like that feeling and wish I could be enthused as most others seem to be.

What's wrong with my Christmas spirit is what Christmas has become. I guess, historically, it has been a season for giving. Although it has little to do with the celebration of Jesus' birth, Paul quoted what Jesus said about giving:

Acts 20:33 "I (Paul) have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.35 "I (Paul) have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Looking at the context, Paul is referring to material things. He quoted Jesus, but that quote appears no where in the gospels. Somehow Paul knew that Jesus said that. There are three scenarios:
1) When a sinner Paul heard Jesus say that.
2) After he was saved the resurrected Jesus said that to Paul.
3) Paul learned that quote from the lips of a disciple of Jesus.
I favor number 2. Jesus communed with Paul after he was resurrected. Paul was the only apostle who became one after the death of Jesus! He was a favored man. I believe what Paul said "It is more blessed to give than receive." Paul then took that quotation and put it in the context of wealth. I would assume that it was the context Jesus meant because Jesus placed so little importance on wealth, or poverty for that matter.
Therefore, Jesus wants us to be givers! Christians who give are doing so sacrificially. We do without something so that others have. It's voluntary and charitable!
1 Corinthians 13:13 "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
Charity is benevolence toward another. In Christian terms, that act is a demonstration of love such that charity and love become synonymous. One does not give sacrificially as a general rule unless the person is loving. Even philanthropists give because they love others. Christians aren't the only ones who can love another!
A divine example of charity is in the Christmas story. The wise men from the east gave three gifts: gold, Frankinscence and Myrrh. These gifts were not sought by Jesus nor his family. No one made the magi give the gifts. They did it on their own. The wise men expected nothing in return. The gifts were truly gifts! Those men who traveled hundreds of miles came to give to Jesus because of a loving and giving spirit.  They returned home with no more than a joyous feeling for God's guidance to magnify the future Savior of mankind!
I would be ashamed if I were some!
I grew up in a household where gifts were few. We never got toys from our parents and if we got anything, it was socks and underwear. One thing we did get aplenty was LOVE. We children were so loved by our parents that they would have truly sacrificed themselves for any of us!  An example of unselfish love: Dad took us to the Dairy Queen about once a year. With seven kids in tow, money was tight. Dad allowed each of us to get a small sundae. My favorite was and still is hot fudge. Dad always got a small vanilla ice cream cone. It only occurred to me years later when confronted with the same circumstances with my children, that Dad would have loved to have a sundae too, but he sacrificed his own pleasure to make us kids happy! Mom did the same! I cherish that thought and the love conveyed by such simple an action. Dad and Mom did without so that we didn't have to!
Notice that we didn't go out often, but once a year. Although Dad favored us, he certainly didn't spoil us. We did without treats and gifts most of the time and that was how we lived. We were poor and we lived as if we were poor. That's pragmatic and realistic! However, it's the best thing that happened to any of us seven kids because we all "made it" financially in life with very little contributed by our parents. Poverty builds character!
Proverbs 13:4 (ESV) "The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. "
Now, my point! Those who have things given to them are not trained up properly to achieve on their own!
 Sluggards are the unmotivated. Those who are handed all the wants of life are not motivated to work for themselves. This is not only an individual problem, but applies to the U.S. entitlement programs. In fact, over-giving and laxity is a detriment to success! By being diligent and working hard, not only will you prosper, but you'll be happier. I worked hard all my life and am a happy person. God has provided my wealth and prosperity and as an adult I have never done without, unless it was by choice. It's wise to control one's own desires for the benefit of true happiness. Said in another manner "Riches don't insure happiness!"
"Christmas. What's in it for me?" says many!
1) People treat Christmas like a candy store. Many worry for months on "I wonder what I'm getting for Christmas!"
2) Some are bolder. They tell you what they want for Christmas. It's like you're a caterer who is to supply the epicureans cravings.
3) Some say "I was good. I deserve a  _______!". No one deserves any gift. That's why it's a gift. Deserving people get paid. People  you love get gifts only because of your love.
4) People buy for others who they know will buy for them. It's much as bartering. (My son and I have handed each other a $100 check before). Giving because you're receiving is not charity. Let a person who loves you give just to make you happy, not to get something in return.
5) Some people like to share. Let them have the joying of giving without receiving.
6) Never let anyone over-give to you. Let them know that a small gift is just as meaningful.
7) Some people buy the love of others by over-giving. Those who truly love will give sensibly and practically.
8) I've seen ungrateful people show bad attitudes when they didn't get what they wanted.
9) I've seen many kids gets so many toys that they don't know which one to play with and in a few days all but a few are lost, destroyed or put away to outgrow.
10) Buying teens expensive items is over-giving. Buying small kids expensive items is stupidity.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. "What's in it for me?" Well, for myself, I want one thing from everybody. I want love. It may be friendship or it may be a hug. However, love is not a tangible item. It's a meaningful action with emotion. The best gift to denote that love is a handwritten note given with a smile and a hug. That's what I want. That's what I need! That what we all really need! That's giving the gift which Christ intended. It's not the silver and gold which you give to another, but the sacrifice of giving! Giving should not be done to those who haven't the need, but to the needy! Love is a gift for everybody.
I search for that kind of love at Christmas. Some display it. Others don't. What would be the best gift ever if everyone I know, especially my family, thinks about the feelings of others, shows respect to others, trusts others, honors others and just plain old have charity to others. What great Christmas gifts!

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