Monday, December 18, 2017

Giving Too Much

In preparing for Christmas and giving gifts to those we love, is it possible to give too much? Not according to marketers, vendors, and children!

In my Bible reading this morning, people were giving too much. They were so excited they didn't stop until they were told. No, it wasn't Christmas that got them wound up, it was the new tabernacle.

And all the skillful men who were performing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work which he was performing, and they said to Moses,“The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the Lord commanded us to perform.” So Moses issued a command, and a proclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, “Let no man or woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary.” Thus the people were restrained from bringing any more. For the material they had was sufficient and more than enough for all the work, to perform it. (Exodus 36:4-7)

When is the last time your church told everyone to stop giving? "That's enough, you can stop giving now." Wouldn't that be something? The Bible tells us that God moved the people and they responded.

That led me to think about Christmas. Is it possible to give too much? Here are some truths about Christmas gifts:

- I can never give more than God has given me; therefore, what I give is His to begin with. "What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" (1 Corinthians 4:7) Am I using God's good gifts the way He would?

- It's easy to focus on the wrong person. I may say my focus is the receiver, but it's easy for my thoughts to focus on what I give, how much I give, or how thoughtful I am, making it more about me than anyone else. Instead, it should be about God, the greatest Giver of all. "By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him." (1 John 4:9) What is my focus in giving?

-Giving, like every other part of my life, should make much of God. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) In what ways does my giving point others to Christ?

- Giving with God in mind puts practical boundaries on my giving:
      I spend within my means. "...the borrower becomes the lender’s slave." (Proverbs 22:7).
      I meet my daily responsibilities and obligations. "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and 
          especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."
          (1 Timothy 5:8) "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might..." (Ecclesiastes
      I do what is right and trust God with the rest."Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil;
          cling to what is good.... Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath  
          of God..." (Romans 12:19).

Somehow, in this Christmas season, we get overwhelmed with emotion and a desire for the elusive "Spirit of Christmas." In all of our giving, wouldn't it be wonderful if God was seen more clearly? If Jesus was made evident in our responses (online and in person)? If Christ was magnified in our sleeping, eating, and loving?

The reminder to myself is that, yes, I can give too much, I can give for the wrong reasons, and I need to rearrange my thoughts and attitude (confess and repent). It is a reminder to be Jesus to those around me regardless of the giving, the greed, discontent, disappointment, and despair that surrounds the season because being like Jesus is so much better than simply remembering Him.

Those who walk with God reach their destination.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21 NASB)

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