A solution to seasonal materialism
Struggling with the inherent materialism of the Christmas season?
Here’s a simple solution: Give an amount equal or greater than what you spend on yourself and family.
In his farewell address to the Ephesian elders, the apostle Paul ended his address by saying, “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” And then he adds this:
I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me.
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
– Acts 20:33-35
1. Giving proves the authenticity of faith. Note Paul’s appeal here is not to his teaching but his deeds: “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities…” Essentially, Paul is saying, “Judge the validity of my life and ministry not just by what I’ve said, but also by what I’ve done.” When we give without expectation to receive, our faith is verified as true to those observing.
2. Hard work finds purpose when providing for the weak. Now this is not the only purpose of hard work, but it was certainly Paul’s intent here with his labor. If we work simply to provide for ourselves, we are missing the blessing of giving (which is next).
3. Giving blesses the giver more than the receiver. Paul quotes here a beatitude from the Lord Jesus not found in the Sermon on the Mount, but one with the same authority. Matthew Henry says it well: Giving “makes us more like God, who gives to all and receives from none.”
If you want your Christmas:
- To authenticate your faith
- To provide greater purpose for your hard work
- To be blessed by God,
Consider giving to ‘the least of these.’