We all know that Christmas is supposed to be a time of giving, but something we read last spring in Knowing God by J. I. Packer gave me a new perspective on it all.
The Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor - spending and being spent - to enrich their fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care and concern, to do good to others - and not just their own friends - in whatever way there seems need.Our culture applauds giving elaborate gifts to people we like. There's nothing wrong with giving gifts, I'm excited about the things I am giving this year! But how different is Jesus' kind giving. He gave up everything, he actually became poor so that he could meet the needs of his enemies, those who could not give back. That's radically different from what we normally hear described as the Christmas spirit. It is something we can only begin to emulate when - in the words of the verse Packer uses to close his chapter - God "enlarges our hearts" (Ps 119:32).
Along the same lines, I heard a brief comment on the radio about putting Jesus on your list of people to get gifts for. We're talking about something different from tithes here, what the old testament calls a "freewill offering". It seems like such an obvious thing to do - it is His birthday, after all - yet it's something I'd never considered before.
So as we count down to Christmas, those are some of the things on my heart. I want to give like Jesus does. I am praying that the Lord will continue to enlarge my heart. And I would encourage you to put Jesus on your Christmas list. He is very easy to buy for!