Christmas is a time for receiving. Isn’t that what advertisements tell me constantly when they are trying to convince me that I need the newest/fastest/shiniest/biggest/smallest/greenest _______ (you fill in the blank)? I do have to say that living in Taiwan and not being able to understand most of the Chinese ads helps a lot with the product-lust that I felt more strongly in the States. Still, I think when Christmas rolls around I and most of us, if we’re honest, revert back to the ways of childhood list-making for what we want Santa (or Apple, Best Buy, Kohl’s, or Amazon) to give us.
On the flip side, I’ve also noticed a recent trend of organizations really pushing for people to give during the Christmas season. We can give money to missionaries, doctors, and teachers overseas. We can pay for clean water, rice for a year, or a roof on a house in remote parts of the world. We can give presents to kids who won’t have any or send Christmas cards to prisoners. We can even buy a pig or a goat to provide for tribal people somewhere.
It seems like during the Christmas season more than any other time of the year we are bombarded with conflicting messages that tell us to get, get, get or to give, give, give. So which is it? I think the Bible is pretty clear about that one. Especially at Christmas, we are reminded of the greatest gift that mankind ever received: the gift of God’s Son, Jesus. Of course, Christmas is only the beginning of the story of, as Andrew Peterson puts it, “the power of death undone by an infant born of glory.” Even as Jesus was born as a baby in Bethlehem, the cross of Calvary was in view.
God gave his Son as a sacrifice. My dictionary says that a sacrifice is “an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.” Wow. If that definition is true, then God regarded you and me as more valuable than His very own Son. Think on that for a moment. Then praise God for the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.
I don’t want to make Christ’s sacrifice into just an object lesson about giving to others, for His gift in and of itself is something to ponder and revel in. However, again and again the Scripture exhorts us to be “transformed into Christ’s image” and to “follow the example of Christ” (2 Cor. 3:18 & 1 Cor. 11:1), so I think that means that since God is all about giving, then we should be too. So what does that mean for my Christmas or your Christmas this year? What are we willing to give?
Giving is not all about monetary or tangible gifts, of course. It could mean giving your time to care for someone who is lonely. It could mean being the listening ears and arms of love to the person who is hurting. It could mean praying for the needs of others. However, I think it’s worth stopping to think about what God is calling us each to give sacrificially this year. Remember that sacrificial giving costs us something. Perhaps you’ve already given to some great causes, but in case you haven’t, I have a few ideas to share. Below is information about three projects which I wholeheartedly support. Maybe you’d like to support one of them too. Feel free to contact me if you have questions about any of these opportunities for giving.
- The first is called Christy’s Stocking. This is a charity that was set up by friends of mine in memory of their daughter, Christy, who passed away three years ago. Christy was a friend who was in out of hospitals all her life, so Christy’s Stocking is dedicated to giving Christmas gifts to children at Children’s Hospital in Lexington, KY. You can send gift cards, children’s books, and children’s DVDs to spread cheer to children who are needy and who are facing the holidays in the hospital. Christy’s Stocking will be delivered on Dec. 20, so please send gifts before then. For more information, see my note on Facebook.
- The second is our school’s Christmas project this year. We are partnering with an organization called One Day’s Wages to bring clean water to two schools in Cambodia. The students in these schools drink contaminated water and are often sick and not able to attend school. Clean water could mean a world of new opportunities for them. Our students are working hard to raise support, and we’ve been talking with them a lot about what it means to give sacrificially. Would you consider giving clean water to children in Cambodia? For more information, see our One Day’s Wages page.
- Finally, I want to share the needs of His Hands Taiwan, the orphanage with which I volunteer. Just last week, Sara and I posted on our Facebook pages that His Hands has a desperate need for car seats, especially because all of the babies will be leaving the nursery to spend Christmas break in homes with families (praise the Lord!). We had so many responses from friends and family that we were able to buy enough car seats to send all of the babies safely along for the holidays. Thank you so much to those who gave! The founders of the orphanage also expressed to us that there is a real need for more port-a-cribs and strollers for the nursery. We are able to buy those items in Taiwan, but we are in need of the funds to do so. Would you consider sending money to help pay for a port-a-crib or stroller? If so, see the His Hands support page and be sure to designate the purpose of your donation on your check or Paypal gift.
Last May, I wrote a post on sacrifice, and half a year later, I still hold to what I said in that post: great sacrifice leads to greater joy. What joy will you gain by what you give this Christmas?