Read Isaiah 9:6-7 and Ephesians 1:3-10
Giving is a tiny act of expressing the way we think or feel about someone. It says, “You matter to me!” It says, “I’ll give something away that’s important to me, in order to show that I care about you!” or “I’m thinking about you!” Have you ever given a gift wondering what you’ll get in return? Sometimes you might think, “I’ve put so much time, and effort, and money into this present! I hope I get something good, too.” The reasons for how and what we give are really important; they express love, and they also give a little peek inside what we hope for.
Similarly, the Father gave us the gift of his Son with a glimpse into His love and a few of His hopes: that we’ll be healed, that we’ll be united with our friends and families, that we’ll see Jesus as the best King.
Imagine it. God, the spinner of galaxies, the star-maker, the ant protector, the eagle feeder, the commander of angels gave himself to a very broken place, filled with hurting and angry people, in order to help us experience his lovingkindness. He showed love through the language of sacrificial giving!
Now consider an all-too-familiar cultural Christmas. We have the tradition of buying an item for a person because it’s just what we do. Imagine if God were to give to us this way: trinkets that are thrown away once they wear out and break. Do you think He would have sacrificed His only Son for us?
The King says that the way we
give is very important in his story. Listen to what he says:
“The amount you give will be given back to you, but even more so.” —Luke 6:38
Sounds awesome, yeah? But Jesus wasn’t talking about Xboxes or candy. He was talking about how the love and mercy we give away in this life will be a mirrored experience in the next life.
In other words, how and what and why we give really, really matters to our King because He first expressed it to us to show His goodness to others. He has given us so much! Ephesians chapter 1 tells us that He’s “lavished” (or we could even say “heaped”) His gifts on us. He’s given us “every spiritual gift in the heavenly places” and He did all of this before we knew Him, even when we’d rebel against Him.
However, this doesn’t lead us into guilt, it directs us into joyful generosity. When we see His kindness, it inspires kindness within us! Just like you’ve considered what it means to spend less, think through what it also means to give more as you love others.
- What actions would really, truly help someone?
- What could you sacrifice for the sake of someone?
- What do you know about the person’s needs or preferences that could be expressed through a gift?
- How might you give up some of your time?
- What needs to change in you in order to simply be present with someone?
- Is there anyone that doesn’t deserve your generosity? How might Christ relate to them?
Throw a party! During the Advent season plan a dinner or a party for friends or your family. Invite someone (or multiple people) over with the intention of showing generosity and practicing hospitality. If you have kids, give them the primary role of helping plan the evening and make space for them to be the hosts. Let them enjoy the creativity of giving, as opposed to just receiving.
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in choosing who you invite to your party! Who is Jesus helping you see and love this Advent?