Throughout the year, we talk about the many ways in which we can be generous with our time, talent, and treasure. However, Christmas provides us an opportunity to cultivate a spirit of generosity in a unique way that is more powerful than any single instance of giving all year long. Our attitude as a recipient is in the spotlight on Christmas, and our gratitude is a perfect way to recognize what God has done and encourage others in their own acts of generosity.
The Power of Reciprocal Joy
This Christmas, Americans will have spent over one trillion dollars celebrating the holiday. Hundreds of thousands of gifts exchange hands. Some will be delivered under obligation, some with impatient excitement, and others with genuine concern about its suitability for the recipient. Our reaction, thankfulness, and relationship efforts made during this exchange will craft our reputation as gift recipients whether we are thinking about it or not. Who are you most excited to give to? Would you be as excited if they casually set aside your gift every year to focus on other things?
The idea of giving is intrinsic to the story of Christmas and to the gospel. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life,” the well-recited John 3:16 says. We look to the gift of Christ’s cross as a model that we should live generously. The very next clause in John 3:16 is just as important- “that whoever believes in Him.” God’s gift to mankind is much less valuable to those who do not believe and accept the invitation to live joyously knowing our sins are forgiven by Jesus’ crucifixion.
When we receive a gift, let us accept the invitation of joy from those who are modeling what Christ gave us. Our gratitude helps continue to foster a generous, sacrificial spirit.
How Do We Respond?
Receiving is actually more difficult than giving. Have you ever been caught off guard with a compliment and don’t know how to reply? The key component of gratitude is humility. We are quick to tell someone who compliments our outfit that we got it for a discount or where it came from rather than saying thank you. Be humble enough to receive generosity, and let that humility and gratitude then shape your response.
Perhaps you receive a special handcrafted item from your child or a carefully planned present from your spouse. Your demonstration of humble gratitude will reaffirm the value of generosity to them. No matter the gift, consider it a moment to practice being a humble receiver. Recognizing another’s sacrifice, let us use the opportunity to spread joy, build relationships, and inspire future generosity.
This applies far beyond physical gifts. We are rich in Jesus, and we can display the goodness of His gifts through our gratitude and whole-life generosity. Our reactions to sacrificial gifts and time can be used to foster future generosity in our families just as much as modeling generosity itself. In our celebration of Jesus, whether surrounded by family in our homes or virtually, be a catalyst for gift encouragement.
Merry Christmas, and may your hearts overflow.
“What right have you to be dismal? What right have you to be morose? You are rich enough.”
– the character Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens