Thanksgiving and Christmas: lots of yummy food and indigestion, automatically giving thanks, rushing around to buy gifts. Counting off how many of the things on your list you get done.
The most wonderful time of the year, right?
Recently God challenged me with the true wonder of the season. He used a golden nugget hidden in a scripture I usually skim because I think it doesn’t apply to me.
Matthew 10:5-14. I’m not going to type the whole passage here - aren’t you glad – but I’ll give you the gist of it. In verses 7-8, Jesus prepares his disciples to go on a road trip. He tells them to preach that the kingdom of God is at hand, heal people, raise the dead, and cast out demons. I know we are to go out and tell the gospel but the rest of this doesn’t get my attention. After all, I’m not going to be healing the sick and raising the dead. I sure hope I don’t encounter any demons!
So I scan on.
Next, in verses 9-14, He tells them to go without a suitcase. I mean, really? No extra clothes, no deodorant, no hairbrush? Instead, they are to look in each town for a home that will take them in and provide for them. I know there are missionaries that do exactly this but, forget it, I’m lugging my bag to the nearest Holiday Inn!
Then God points out the little jewel hidden in verse 8:
Freely you have received, freely give. (NIV)
Sure I am thankful for loads of things and I love to give gifts – to loved ones, friends, those who give their time and services throughout the year. I love to get gifts. I even love the wildness of shopping!
But is that what Jesus means?
Freely you have received: Are we aware, are we grateful for all we have been given?
Blessings God freely pours out on us: Salvation, friendship, family…I’m sure you have a long list. Health, talents, the ability to hold a job. So often, we don’t recognize the richness of these gifts until they are gone. Praise God for His bountiful gifts! They are without measure, even when times are hard.
Blessings of friendship and love showered on us by those around us: Prayers, encouragement, fun times, a helping hand at just the right moment. Most of the time we say, “Thank you,” but we don’t always let them know how we truly appreciate them. Is there someone who has helped or encouraged you? Call them, send a card, do something special for them. Show them how much they mean to you. Sincere gratitude comes from the heart and blesses the giver more than we can ever imagine.
Freely give: God’s love is a flowing spring within us, not a stagnant pond.
As He has given, we should give.
- Mercy: Shown to the driver who cuts in front of me or to a friend who barks sharply at me for no reason.
- Grace: Give a cup of coffee or ice-cold drink to a homeless person or buy a little gift for a loved one…just because.
- Love: Hug a friend, or even an acquaintance. Smile at the worker in the checkout line. Or, best of all, share the hope and joy of the gospel.
Freely give to others: We should look around and freely give the blessings we have received.
- A warm house full of loved ones? Invite someone who will be alone on Christmas day or take an old coat to a collection point.
- A table full of food? Help deliver food baskets or take a few things to the local food pantry.
- Joy of a child on Christmas morning? Donate a new or used toy at a collection point.
We have received such riches from God, in the past, present, and future.
Richly give to others right now and in the future.
You will be blessed!