Getting or Giving

          If you ask any child in America, ages five and above, why Christmas is their favorite holiday (besides their birthday, which will yield the same answer) they would say, “Because I get presents!” It’s all about gratification of their wants.  You might try to minimize the advertising aimed at their ‘GQ’ (Greed quotient!) which begins to intensify around Labor Day, and builds to appeal to adults’ ‘GQ’s (Guilt quotient) from Black Friday through Christmas Eve!

          Halloween is centered on demanding treats from strangers or giving out undesirable tricks as consequences of being denied the treats. This reminds me of Satan’s ‘giving’ – promising treats but attaching strings of undesirable consequences, often including addictions, loss of relationships and/or assets, emptiness, pain, regret, etc.  But God gives graciously because of His love. (John 3:16) One definition of love says, “Love is the unselfish desire to meet the needs of the loved object.”  That’s what He did when He came to meet the demands of the Law (sinless perfection) for us – our greatest need.  When we reach out to help meet the needs of others, expecting nothing in return, we are tangibly expressing His love – from the sacrificial giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering, right down to the cup of cold water given in His name.

           The change of attitude and action needed in regard to getting and giving includes the admonition Paul gives us in Ephesians 4:28:  “Let him who stole, steal no more, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.”  In fact, God even wants us to be concerned for the basic needs of our enemies.  He tells us, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.  For so you will heap coals of fire (shame?) on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” (Prov. 25:21-22) And again, “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven: for He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5:44-45)  After all, “Every good gift…comes down from the Father…” (James 1:17)