The Gift of Giving
Christmas is coming! In 24 days we will be celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior made flesh. During this time, many of us become focused on buying gifts for our loved ones. However, maybe you do not have much. Every year seems to get rougher and rougher. I know that I have not prospered financially this year. Well, luckily the Bible gives us many stories of people who have very little yet were able to bless others through what they did. Today we are going to explore three of those stories.
Story 1: The Anointing Woman (Matthew 26:6-13)
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
In this story, we have a woman who pours some perfume on Jesus’ head. The disciples are quick to chastise her for this action, saying that she could have sold the perfume and given the money to the poor. Jesus responds by saying that she has done a beautiful thing. To me, this story speaks volumes about purpose. Sure, the woman could have sold the perfume and given the money to the poor, but she bestowed her gift upon Jesus. To me, this shows that there are times to give even when there are others who could benefit from it. There may be a person who needs this gift. The gift could be their salvation. However, we the gift sold for cash and distributed, the poor affected might not be affected. It is important to pray for discernment in where we should bestow our gifts.
Story 2: The Widow’s Offering (Mark 12:41-44)
“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples The Gift of Givingto him, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.’”
In this story, a woman gives the equivalent of a couple pennies as her offering to the temple. While this offering might seem insignificant, she was actually giving proportionally more than the others who heaped great amounts in the offering bowl. To me, this story teaches that you do not have to be rich to make a great offering. This story reminds me of the parable where a man gives five talents, three talents, and one talent to three respective men. The giving man is glad because each has been faithful with what they were given so they are entrusted to more. We must be faithful with what we are given, even if it is just a few pennies. When we offer the little amount we might have, we are truly offering a fortune to God.
Story 3: The Widow’s Oil (1 Kings 17:10-24)
The story here is too long for this message, so I’ll give you a summary. Elijah comes to Zarephath and asks a nearby widow to go get him some water and bread. The woman only has a little oil and some flour which she was planning to use to make a final meal before she and her son died. Elijah implores God and the widow will not run out of flour and oil until it rains again. Later, he son dies, Elijah prays to God, and the son is resurrected from death.
This story has two points that I want to focus on today. Firstly, this story shows that God will multiply the little you have if you offer it to Him. The widow only has enough oil and flour to feed her and her son one last time before they lay down to die. By offering what little she had, God blessed her through the famine that ravaged the area at the time. Secondly, God will bless others to bless you for blessing them. Because the widow was faithful and fed Elijah when he was starving, God blessed Elijah and the widow’s son was resurrected from the dead. Sometimes when we give, also receive.
I hope these three stories have helped you put into perspective this holiday season so that you can give in accordance to what you have and with the will of God. Gifts are not just a silly tradition. They are used by God to change the pedestrian to the divine. God may take something you thought was clandestine and bless it so that it affects far more people than you could ever dream. It is our job to have the faith of a mustard seed and persevere to the end.
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