2 CORINTHIANS 8:1-5 – We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.
THEME OF THE DAY. THE BEST GIFTS WE MAY GIVE. Let’s be honest. If we are a people who celebrate Christmas – both spiritually in remembering the Reason for the season, the birth of our Lord Jesus and worldly in purchasing gifts for friends and families, we face two great challenges. First, to keep the Christ of Christmas centered in our celebration of Christmas. The world will do us no favors in this area. It seems by the time November 1 appears on the calendar, the retail world, the materialistic world, the money-hungry world unleashes its tactics to persuade us to give into the consumerism of Christmas. It is not a battle easily won. The other challenge is associated with the first. It is that of buying gifts for friends and families. There is certainly nothing wrong with gift-giving as tokens of love and appreciation. It becomes wrong in two ways. First, when we give out of obligation. Another honesty check – who hasn’t felt the nagging statement, “We have to get him, her, them a gift since they got us one”? Let that go friend. Don’t let gift-giving be a thing of bondage or duty. There is no joy in “have to” giving. Another way gift-giving becomes wrong is when debt piles up and Christmas, not the season, but the bills, carry over till early spring. Let that go, too, my friend. Not only is there no joy in “have to” giving, but there is no joy in the bondage of post-Christmas debt.
So, since we are talking about Christmas and giving, it would be a good time to ponder what would be the best gifts we may give. In particular, the best gifts we may give to the Lord, our families and friends. In today’s scripture, we get the answer – ourselves.
When it comes to giving to the Lord, He certainly deserves our time, talent, and treasures, but those are secondary gifts. The best gift we give the Lord is what the Macedonian believers gave Him – themselves. Let’s evaluate our lives for a moment. Is the Lord Jesus the center of our lives? The chief affection of our hearts? The consuming thought in our mind? Before we even consider giving Him our service, we must give Him our hearts. Do our lives reflect a heart-allegiance to the Lord Jesus that allows no one or no material thing to usurp His rightful place on the throne of our hearts? Or are we a “partial” giver of ourselves to the Lord, only as it fits into our wills, schedules and convenience? By the way, there is no such thing as a person who partially gives him or herself to Jesus. Just like the Lord gave His total life to save us, His true people give their total lives to follow Him. This Christmas, if Jesus doesn’t have all of you in thought, word, attitude, and deed, give Him the best gift you may – yourself.
Then, we have the gifts we give to our families and friends. What are the greatest things we may give them? There are two. First, a life centered on Jesus Christ and then, sacrificial spiritual investments of ourselves in their lives. Nothing is of greater value, influence, or importance. To give our friends and families a consecrated life to Christ and a sacrificial life of spiritual investments in them are gifts that keep on giving now and after we have left this world. Everything else pales in comparison and value. So as Christmas Day unfolds or is winding down, are we giving the Lord, our families, and friends the greatest gift possible? It doesn’t come in a box. It comes from the heart and it is ourselves.
PRAYER: “Father, may I live consecrated to the Lord Jesus that not only reflect Him to others but influences them.”
QUOTE: “The best thing we give our families is not material things but a life dedicated to Christ in speech and conduct.”