Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Giving Season

December is here. Christmas is just around the corner. What is it this season that you are hoping to receive? Do you love gifting to others? We make so much of this season about the material that it leaves the heart empty. Just what if we gave in such a way that we made the heart full?

"In every way I've shown you that by laboring like this, it is necessary to help the weak and to keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, for He said, 'It is better more blessed to give than receive.'" Acts 20:35

It is the season of gift giving. Oh, the packages wrapped so beautifully with bows and ribbon that will lay beneath our Christmas trees. Who doesn't love a great gift? I know I love them. Birthday gifts are the best to me. My birthday is on the 30th of December. You winter birthday people will understand. Yep, most of my birthday gifts growing up were tossed in with my Christmas present. I gotta tell ya that I didn't enjoy that much growing up. I envied those kids with birthdays in the summer. 

"Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning." James 1:17

When we think about the message here that is more blessed to give than receive, just what are we thinking about? Is it the gift giving of presents only? I'm not so sure that's what Jesus was sharing with us. At least for me I gain something totally different here. I love going deeper and if I do I am convicted of not always wanting to be the giver, but the receiver. 

"Each person should do as he has decided in his heart-not reluctantly or out of necessity, for god loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7

I love giving gifts to family and friends. It is a true blessing for me. But giving gifts is easy. What about the giving of gifts that doesn't come wrapped, but comes from the heart? Yes, those gifts are not always so easily given, especially when they aren't received well and they aren't returned to the giver. But then again, we aren't suppose to worry about how it is received or if we too will receive a gift in return now are we? We are simply to open our heart and give. Give until it hurts. Ouch! 

"A gift opens doors for a man and brings him before the great." Proverbs 18:16

Jesus gave. He gave us the ultimate gift and we are to follow in His example. Could that be why there are so many verses about giving? If giving a gift is so easy would Jesus continue to share with us so much about giving? I don't think so. That's why I think He's going much deeper here. 

"Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don't ask for them back. Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them." Luke 6:20-32

What if we gave love even when it wasn't reciprocated? What about forgiveness when it isn't asked for, but so needed? We don't seem to give much of our time any more. Grace and mercy do so much for the spirit when they are given from one who so desperately needs them too. Prayer is a gift that is lasting. Once that prayer is spoken it remains. Can you imagine if we thought of gift giving in a much different way all that is possible? 

"And forgive our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." Matthew 6:12

In this season of giving life can grow hectic. Family can be separated. Drama seems to sneak in from every corner of our lives. We are wounded. We hide away from everyone. We expect others to treat us a certain way, but we aren't willing to treat others in how we too want so badly to be treated. We expect so much from one another. We fail at being perfect and we aren't willing to forgive or accept others as they are. We are always wanting more. That perfect gift that's wrapped perfectly. Those are ultimate failures. Every time we expect perfection from people we set them up for failure and we too don't make it easy for ourselves. We lose so very much in expecting such a great perfection from others. Don't you agree?

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23

If our focus was off of what others can do for us and placed on our own giving without expectation we would walk with peaceful hearts. Hearts giving, not because we have to, but because this is who Jesus is and this is who we are to become. Giving may not come easy, but with forgiving ourselves comes grace for others. Having a merciful heart is loving another unconditionally and living in gratitude changes our attitude. 

"Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God." 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

Looking for perfection in people is a trap that only leads to a wounded soul. How can I expect so much from others when I myself am not perfect? I simply want to love the people around me. Let me tell ya not everyone makes that easy. But loving without expecting something in return is a love that goes far beyond any gift wrapped with a red bow. That is an unconditional love that can only grow and leave behind a legacy. 

"Love is patient, love is kind." 1 Corinthians 4

Praying is a mighty gift. If I know people are praying for me I am so over the top blessed and thankful. In this season of giving I continue to pray for all those I love. Prayer brings us together. Not every relationship is easy. But friends, an honest love, a love from Jesus, is greatest gift we can share with one another. May this season we think less about the gifts that are wrapped so tidy, and ponder those that are a bit more messy. If we are willing to open our hearts and give, Jesus will take that messy heart and create a lasting gift of beauty that will light up all of heaven.

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