During the Christmas season, the words you’ll hear more than any other word is the word “gift.” Starting on Black Friday we begin a month long dash to finding the right gift to give to other people around us. In fact, the month of December is the only month of the year where everybody forgets the past and everybody forgets the future and everybody just focuses on the present.
A lot of people think that the gift giving idea at Christmas time was started by the wise men, because as we know they brought the first gifts to the baby Jesus in the manger. As the little boy said, “The wise men brought gold, Frankenstein and myrtle.”
But actually the first gift at Christmas was the gift that God gave. God so loved the world that he gave. And the very first Christmas gift was God himself – Jesus giving himself to you to be incarnate, one of us, and to die on the cross for your sins so you could have your past forgiven, a purpose for living and a home in heaven. Jesus is the original Christmas gift. We only give because God gave to us first.
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.”
Christmas is about generosity. The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of generosity.
If it weren’t for God’s generosity you and I would have nothing. The air you breathe is a gift of God’s generosity. The blood coursing through your veins is a gift of God’s generosity. The fact that your heart is beating is a gift of God’s generosity. Every good thing in your life that you have, including your life is a gift of God’s generosity. If God was not a generous God we wouldn’t even exist. The universe would not exist. It exists because of his generosity.
John 1:16 says this “We all live off of God’s generous bounty, gift after gift after gift.” Every good thing in your life is evidence of God’s generosity.
Here’s the key: God wants you to learn to be generous too. God is generous and he wants his children to be generous. If you’re a parent do you want your kids to learn to share? Of course you do. Do you want your kids to learn to be generous, to learn to be unselfish? Yes! Absolutely. So God says I want generosity to be a lifestyle not a seasonal event. I want it to be a habit of your life.
But here’s the problem. It’s not easy being generous today because we live in a very consumeristic, materialistic, self-centered world.
So let’s look at why God want us to learn this quality? Why is generosity so important? Out of all the things in Scripture, God emphasizes this quality more than almost any other quality in life. There are more verses on this in the Bible than you could possibly imagine.
I hope you will remember these so that by the end of 2014 people will notice how much of a generous person you have grown to be. People should be able to look at you and say, that guy is a generous man! That woman is a generous woman! He’s got a generous heart. She’s not stingy. She’s generous.
There are only two kinds of people in life. There are givers and there are takers. You have to decide in life what you’re going to be. Am I going to be a giver or am I going to be a taker?
You can be a taker and live a self-centered life. It’s not by accident that the word “miser” and “miserable” come from the same root word. The more you are a taker the more miserable you’re going to be in life. Jesus said it like this: “It is only those who learn to give their lives away who will ever really know what it means to fully live.”
What are the reasons God wants me to develop the spirit of Christmas year round – what is the spirit of Christmas? The spirit of giving. The spirit of generosity. It’s not just for December. We need to do it all the time. It needs to be a habit. Why?
- It makes me more like God
- It is a cure for selfishness.
- It deepens relationships.
- It stretches my faith.
- It blesses me back.
- It’s an investment in eternity
What’s going to happen in 2014? We don’t know what the economy is going to do in 2014, but I do know what is going to happen. 2 Corinthians 9 “God will give you many opportunities to do good, [in 2014, to be generous, to practice generosity] and he will produce a great harvest of generosity in you. [In other words you plant the seed, he’ll do the harvest.] Then you will be enriched [You’ll get more back] so that you can give even more generously.”
See the cycle? God gives to you, you give to help other people, then God gives you more, then that gives you more to help other people. It’s a cycle. It just keeps going on and on.
(Adapted from Rick Warren’s “Christmas is Generosity)