The Tyranny of Giving
The Tyranny of Giving
Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
There is a wonder about Christmas as well as a tyranny. There is a wondrous briskness in the air and a rosy glow on the cheeks of early shoppers. There seems a purposefulness in those in the stores, though the planned buying lists of "Thanksgiving Friday" shoppers disintegrate into a mad frenzy by December 24th. Just grab at anything that Uncle Fritz can smile at when he unwraps it, even though no one can think of anything he really wants or needs.
The season also imposes its tyranny on many of us. Instead of being able to give out of thoughtfulness and love, we often give because it is "expected". I heard of one couple who had 85 people they felt obligated to remember with a gift. No wonder the joy of giving falls away to a sort of panicked despair.
It is time to refresh our giving with a truth from Scripture deeply imbedded into our consciousness from hundreds of repetitions at church offerings: "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7; NIV).
Can we give cheerfully this Christmas? Only in so doing can we emulate the great Gift of Christmas. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16, KJV). Was our Father cheerful that night He sent His Son to lie in the manger- hay of Bethlehem's rejection? I'm not sure. He doubtless wept as He traced Jesus' path to the cross's torture and triumph. Like Jesus, "Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross..." (Hebrews 12:2), the Father tempered His pain with His anticipation of the happiness and freedom which would surprise the recipients of His Gift upon opening.
And so God gave, not reluctantly or because He was forced by popular opinion, but because He loved. No store-bought gift would do for those He held dear, it must be home-made. Nor was His choice of Gift an optional trinket for the "man who has everything." He gave the only possession that we don't have and really need. He did not give a thing, an object. He gave Himself--a costly Gift in the extreme, so expensive that many reject the Gift because of the obligation they know they incur upon acceptance.
Herein lies a Christmas mystery. Only by opening the first Gift may we truly comprehend what is the real significance of giving and receiving gifts. May this season not capture us in its tyranny, but release us in an eager cheerfulness to give.