We are just a few days away from the largest gift-giving season of the year. It is a time of excitement, joy, anxious anticipation, and sharing. There are many reasons why this time of year is among the favorites of many people. Some are privileged to witness a beautiful blanket of snow with redbirds and bluebirds foraging for food in the white treasure. Office buildings, houses, and town squares are beautifully decorated with tinsel and lights. Singing fills the air and television stations show touching movies that center around this holiday season.
While there are numerous positive things that can be said about this season, there are some things of which we need to be careful. For example, if we are not vigilant a materialistic attitude can be developed. Retail outlets often appeal to our desire for more material things, whether we need them or not. We tend to spend beyond our means, charging items that will take most of the next year to pay for. It is often the case that the hurried pace and pressing crowds leave us impatient and unkind. At a time when there are family gatherings, office parties, and friends getting together, there are many who feel lonely, guilty, and depressed. In fact, there are more suicides this time of year than at any other time of the year.
“’Tis the season of giving” is an expression often repeated, but, unfortunately, we usually limit it to material gifts. There are other things we can give that are more significant and meaningful. To a friend we can give loyalty and love, to an enemy forgiveness. To an employer, we can give service. To a child, we can give them a proper example. To a father we can give respect and to a mother, gratitude and devotion. To a spouse, we can give love and faithfulness. To all men, we can extend charity; and above all, we can give to God our life.
The psalmist asked a penetrating question, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” (Psalms 116:12). In our quest to purchase gifts for others, have we left God out? Only thoughtless and inconsiderate people pass through life receiving God’s blessings without giving thought to the Bountiful Giver who provided these blessings. We should possess the attitude of the Macedonians who “…first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God” (2 Corinthians 8:5). The prophet of God accused the Israelites of robbing God (Malachi 3:8) because they failed to do that. Are we guilty of robbing God because we fail to first give ourselves?