A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com
Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com
We are in a short respite from our study of The Story. We will pick up our readings from that study again after Christmas. But until then, we will enjoy the Advent season and focus on the first coming of Jesus and His expected return. Incidentally, our three week pause will put our Easter readings in line with the Easter season as we march through God’s story, His plan to bring us back into an intimate, face to face relationship with Him.
We all like presents, I think. Some of us like giving presents as much or more than getting them. I’ll admit, when I was young, I liked the getting part a lot better, but as I’ve matured, I really do like the giving a lot more than the getting. I think there is something that changes in us as we go through a few seasons of life. Let’s view a few of those and how they might impact your attitude toward giving this year.
As a child, I thought like a child. Children are selfish. We’re born that way. Just take a look at any infant and you’ll see it’s true. When they don’t get what they want they cry. Feed me. Change me. Hold me. Leave me alone. Let me go to bed. Get me out of bed. Mom’s figure out how to interpret cries pretty well, but babies tell you pretty quickly what they want and they don’t stop telling you until their selfish desires are satisfied. They really could care less about the rest of the world or even the rest of the family. They only care about themselves and their wants.
I became a teenager and learned to give out of luv. That attraction we get when we think we might be compatible to someone. I enjoyed giving something to that special girl I thought I’d be with forever, or at least until next week. You probably remember those teenage crushes and the selfishness that went along with those presents to win the hearts of those to whom they were presented.
Then I matured a little and fell into a state of real love with the lady I’ve been married to for forty-one years. The presents I gave her weren’t meant to get something in return or to win her love, but something to express how I felt expecting nothing in return but hoping she felt as deeply about me as I did about her. Still, I have to say I really enjoyed receiving those presents from her that showed she cared about me, too.
When kids came along, receiving stuff didn’t matter anymore. I wanted to see the joy in their eyes when they received something they wanted, something they liked that they didn’t expect. My giving became so much more important than getting. Grandkids make giving even more fun in the family. Watching my kids’ eyes light up when their kids’ eyes light up is something to behold. Those of you who are grandparents know what I mean.
But this thing about giving being more important and more satisfying than getting started coming about for reasons other than aging and maturing. It is more than just having a wife and kids and grandkids. This thing about enjoying watching the joy in others and watching the glow in other’s faces when they receive something unexpected or something they want or need comes from something deep inside that grows every day as I grow closer to Jesus.
When we pattern our life after His, we learn to enjoy giving. He was the ultimate giver, after all. He gave up heaven to come to earth and walk around this tiny little dirty planet to be with us. He gave up His family to walk the dusty roads of Israel to share the message that God had something better for them. He gave up His life on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins and yours. Jesus gave up everything so that we could have it all. We have eternal life because He gave His on the cross.
When we become like Him, we learn that giving brings joy. We learn that giving from the heart is better than giving from the pocket book. It means that giving time is often much better than giving money. It means that giving of yourself is the ultimate goal of every follower of Jesus. Servanthood, giving and giving and giving for the joy of giving is the life Jesus taught His disciples and the life we find when we let His lead us.
To the world it makes little sense. You can still find lots of adults that have the attitude that the one with the most toys at the end wins. You can find those who believe money and accumulation and getting everything they can get is what it’s all about. You can find those who buy into the world’s lie that material things are the most important things and they go after them with gusto.
To the world, servanthood means weakness. To Jesus it means obedience to His will and incredible strength because it’s His strength, not ours. To the world servanthood means poverty. To Jesus it means indescribable wealth and riches because He created, controls, and rules the universe. To the world servanthood means subordination. To Jesus it means living the way we were created to live in harmony and community.
We see lots of presents under our tree at Christmas time. When the kids and grandkids come to the house we have a great time watching the paper fly and the listening to the squeals of joy and the laughter and excitement that comes from the mouths of those little ones. They grow up too fast and soon the sparkle that comes from getting all those presents will subside. I hope, like their grandparents and their parents, they learn to enjoy giving more than getting and serving more than being served as they mature physically, mentally, and spiritually.
This is a good time to take inventory of your own attitude toward presents. Which do you like best and why? Getting or giving? Take some time and really think about it. I’d like to hear your thoughts if you’d like to share. Remember Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 9:7: You should each give what you have decided in your heart to give. You shouldn’t give if you don’t want to. You shouldn’t give becaused you are forced to. God loves a cheerful giver.
It’s not just money God cares about, but time, talent, you. God loves a cheerful giver of themself.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.