Christmas week brings the anticipation of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. As a kid, I remember that nothing rivaled Christmas for excitement. We would go to church Christmas Eve, open a gift. Then we’d go to bed in anticipation of waking up and seeing gifts under the Christmas tree. I remember the anticipation I felt when my turn came to open a gift. It was thrilling to experience the joy of tearing apart wrapping paper and discovering a gift for me!
Yet when I became a parent, I discovered an even more thrilling experience – giving gifts to your kids. I soon got more joy from seeing their faces fill with awe and wonder as they carefully examined the packages under the tree. When we hit a home run on a gift, I was amazed to see the sheer joy on their faces.
Jesus did say, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35). We do not know the context for this saying. Paul quotes it in his farewell speech to some church leaders. I remember hearing this quote maybe from my parents when I was a kid. And honestly, I didn’t quite believe it. I experienced much joy in receiving gifts. For many years, I thought it was more blessed to receive than to give. Even when I started making a little money, I found it a struggle to use some of it to pay for gifts I would just give away. Yet God has kept working on my heart and showing me the deeper joys of his upside down kingdom.
1 Corinthians 1:18 says “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” God’s kingdom is an upside down kingdom compared to the world. “The way up is the way down. The way to lead is to serve. The way to get happiness is to seek the happiness of others. The way to be truly rich is to give your wealth away. To the world, all these practices seem foolish, but the cross shows them to be the ultimate reality.”
This week, I pray you can experience the true wisdom of God as we give to and serve others.
“Thank you Lord Jesus that you modelled the ultimate ways of the Kingdom of Heaven. You gave up the wealth and glory of heaven and came down to give your life away. You led by serving and you sought the happiness and joy of others by giving to them. Thank you for the many ways you have shown this in our lives. From your abundant giving to us, empower us to give to others – this week and all year long.”
Tim Keller, God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life; A Year of Daily Devotions in the Proverbs, Viking, New York, 2017, December 21, 355.