God Loves a Cheerful Giver

I have a confession to make: I’m not a huge fan of Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I hate celebrating Jesus’ birth or spending time with family and friends or enjoying delicious turkey dinners. It’s the pressure that comes around gifts.

God Loves a Cheerful Giver: Giving With Purpose

I like to get people gifts, especially when I know it’s something that will make them smile.

I bought a copy of Beauty and the Beast for my oldest daughter awhile back, and she threw herself on the floor and squealed with glee (ah, to be 4 again…).

My wife and I went to Chicago to attend a conference back in April, so I got tickets for an architectural tour of the city and she was thrilled (she loves history and city planning).

My youngest daughter and I went to Starbucks and I bought her a cookie and she was ecstatic (it’s so easy to please an almost-2-year-old).

So Christmas is easy when it comes to other people. But I get really uncomfortable when people ask me what I want for a gift.

Deciding what to ask for isn’t easy in part because I’m in that stage of life where if there’s something I really want, I can get it myself. Adding in my specialized interests — I am the weirdo who asked for a primer in biblical Greek and Spurgeon’s autobiography for Christmas — I typically find myself scrambling to pull together something that isn’t going to result in headaches or expense.

One of the things my wife and I decided early on in our marriage was that we wanted Christmas to be about more than getting — we didn’t want wish lists to be the focus.

As we read the scriptures, we saw these reminders that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) and that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). Those reminders really hit home for us.

God Loves a Cheerful Giver: Giving With Purpose

That’s what we wanted Christmas in our family to be about — to remind ourselves of this truth and teach our children the same.

There are a few ways we’re doing that:

One way is that we look for needs that we can practically meet right here in our community, whether giving to the local food bank or doing something as simple as buying a cup of coffee for a stranger.

Another way is taking an opportunity to give to ministries that have been a blessing to our family and are helping move the gospel forward.

And a third way is looking for ways to bless the global poor with gifts like what you’d see in the Compassion catalog — giving tools to help others earn an income, stay healthy and get an education.

These may not be mind-blowingly original ideas, but they’ve really helped us relieve the pressure that comes around gifts as we focus on others rather than ourselves.

8 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Punardan Madhu December 18, 2011

    It is absolutely true to give something to anyone is better than receive.God has given His only Son for our Salvation,God has sacrifices His Son and His Son Jesus has sacrifices His life for our everlasting living with God in His own Kingdom. We the believers are priviledged for the God’s Kingdomb through Jesus bearing our burden of sin in His own shoulder.Christmas to me to remember in heart what God has done to me and His Son how much he was obidient and faithful to Fathers’ will.

  2. Laurie December 8, 2011

    I have 5 nieces/nephews and 8 grand-nieces/nephews (do not have my own children) and I have enjoyed lavishing them with gifts over the years. As I am getting older (will be 60 in January) and looking forward to retiring..along with the ridiculous amount of ‘stuff’ all the kids have…I’ve cut back…and for the grown kids? A contribution to Compassion/a needy child in their name! What more can we Americans want?? If you look at what so much of the world doesn’t have, we are obscene…and so are our kids. I truly wish Christians would put their collective feet down, and say NO MORE to commercialized Christmas! Let’s make it a DAY of GIVING to those who truly need. The impact would be incredible.

  3. Craig Downs December 6, 2011

    This Christmas I asked my wife to pick one of my girls that I sponsor and give my gift to her. She said yes and liked the idea. I told her that I have plenty and Christmas is the spirit of giving and that it would be a prefect gift for me if she sent a family gift to one of my girls.

  4. Kathy Olson December 5, 2011

    My sponsored child wrote after Christmas last year. She and her grandma were the among the chosen ones to receive chickens that somebody purchased from the Christmas catalog. To whomever the mystery donor is, I add my heartfelt gratitude with theirs. Those chickens were’t’t just a gift that brought joy. For my sponsored child and her grandma it was a game changer. She was way too skinny when I sponsored her. Now she has eggs to add to her diet and manure for their garden. Her recent photos look happier and not so horribly thin anymore. Thanks to all who purchase gifts in the Compassion Christmas catalog.

    1. Shaina December 6, 2011

      It’s so easy to choose items from the Christmas catalog, but to hear from you the difference the gift has made in your child’s life is such a blessing. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Gail December 5, 2011

    One of the longest standing traditions in my family is to invite guests to Christmas lunch with all our family. We look for those who don’t have family or friends to celebrate with. Each year it’s different people. One year we even had someone my Dad met on the side of the road between the morning service and Christmas lunch.

    We never know who God is going to send us so we always have a few extra gifts waiting and ready to give to them. Then we bless them the best we know how. It makes each Christmas unique and exciting.

    1. Alyssa December 5, 2011

      Gail, I love this idea! I have really been thinking a lot recently about the verse (Luke 14:13) that says when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind…and wondering about a way to put this into practice. Your tradition is so simple, and I love the idea of having extra gifts ready. What a beautiful suggestion.

  6. Yvonne December 5, 2011

    Ah yes, to be 2 or 4 again when life was so simple. But it sounds like you and your family are on the right track. There is so much society pressure about gifts at Christmas. Especially from unbelieving family members. We do the things you mentioned in your post and are working on raising money for a cow from the Gifts of Compassion catalog right now. It is such a blessing to focus on others during this season.

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