The popularity of Charlie Brown’s Christmas Special shows
us that it isn’t just a Christian impulse to be suspicious of commercialism at Christmas. Many people in our culture today know that simply giving each other fun stuff can’t account for all that the season means. And for some people, since “simply giving” isn’t enough, the answer becomes simple: stop giving. Don’t give just because that’s what people do. Don’t give in order to get something in return. Don’t give to show how generous you are. And while in some cases, opting out of Christmas could be a helpful tool to combat commercialism and greed, there is a better way: Don’t stop giving, do stop simply giving. When our giving is not thoughtless, but rather motivated by the glory of Christ and the joy of imitating our God, even a simple gift can be richly given. So here are some ways to give that will raise our giving above commercialism and thoughtless tradition:
- Give as an expression of love. Just because some giving doesn’t express love doesn’t mean that all giving is hypocritical or self-interested. Love motivated God’s gift of Jesus, and it should motivate our giving as well. (John 3:16)
- Give in imitation of God. This is why we give: God is a giver (James 1:17), and made us in His image to live like Him. And while our gifts pale in comparison to the gifts He gives, they still shape us so that we look more like Him when we give.
- When you give in love, expect the special blessing of joy. Receiving a gift is a blessing, but Jesus tells us that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) Why is it more blessed to give? Because a large part of the blessing attached to giving is the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in you, a joyful heart. (Jer. 32:41)