10 Dec Joy of Giving
I have been thinking a lot lately about giving and receiving. It is, obviously, the prime gift-giving season of the year, but I’m not referring to the presents I’m buying or making for family and friends. Instead, I’ve been reflecting on the relationship between giving, blessing, God and need.
A lovely and exciting thing prompted these reflections: in the past two weeks, Calvary has received three unexpected gifts. It is humbling to be the recipient of God’s serendipitous blessing. My heart is overflowing with joy and gratitude, so much so that I journal my thanks, pray my thanks, say and sing my thanks, and it still seems that I can’t express it enough. That’s not necessarily bad—it’s good to be reminded that all we have and all we are is a gift from God. Gratitude should be central to the Christian’s life.
And, please, let me be clear: I do not subscribe to the so-called “prosperity gospel” which says that blessing is a sign of God’s favor in a direct “cause and effect” sort of way. Some people have very little and some are in desperate need and want, and God loves and cares for them every bit as much as God loves and cares for me. The question is not whether God loves the poor and needy, but whether I do.
If I love others in the same way God loves them, then I will recognize that God’s blessings are meant to flow through me to others, not to come to me and stop. The image is that of a flowing river rather than a stagnant pond. I am given more than I need so that I can share with others who don’t have adequate resources for a healthy life. That gets to the real heart of the matter: needs vs. wants, generosity vs. selfishness, love vs. fear. No, these are not the kinds of things the shopping malls encourage us to think about this time of year. But, this is precisely the gift of Advent: a season to reflect and prepare to receive the greatest gift ever given, a gift that continually blesses us with life, light, peace and joy.
Glory to God in the Highest!
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