Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Give Versus Get

Give Versus Get
By Brenda Black

He arrived at the back door bearing a small cardboard box. Snow plastered his jacket as he patiently stood in the cold while I fumbled with a stubborn lock. He seemed unaffected by the shocking blustering wind that bit at his back. Kind brown eyes and a genuine smile framed an ever reddening nose and all he said was Merry Christmas.

I received my unexpected gift on a dark winter night. A stranger delivered it across miles of blacktop and winding gravel roads. As I returned to a hot supper in a cozy house, he still had miles to go and numerous stops to make before ever seeing the lights of home. Sure, it's his job and a sense of duty may render the package's arrival. But the courier's gracious patience says he takes pleasure in bringing good news to the people on his route.

I'll admit, special gifts are fun to receive, but joy lingers longer when we become the bearer. Quite possibly, the uniformed trucker has learned like the prophet Isaiah, the privilege of sharing encouragement.

“The Spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn...” (Isaiah 61:1-2)

Most of the time, prophets have the doleful duty to administer warnings of pending doom. Isaiah must have been thrilled for the contrasting departure! In fact he tells us of his elation.

“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.” (Ish. 61:10-11)

The question remains: Is it more blessed to give than receive? Decide for yourself. Receive a gift and think affectionately of the giver - Versus - Give hope to the poor and feel empathy. Bind up the brokenhearted and feel whole. Proclaim freedom for the frightened captives and feel unspeakable peace. Comfort those who grieve and feel purpose.

This time of year, we dwell on material goods that demonstrate meaningful emotions. All that bowing and bestowing is par for the festivities, but beyond the bags and boxes this Christmas, we can give a gift that truly makes a difference. While you sit down and fill out the name tag for gleaming packages and stocking stuffers, stand in the gap and lift up others in prayer before the Provider and Healer and Savior. Paul instructed Timothy to do likewise.

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Christmas is the perfect season for sentimentality. It is a time when tangible evidence reveals intimate thoughts. The traditional exchange of gifts is an example of generosity and conveys appreciation or commitment. More importantly, Christmas giving models Christ.

The Savior of the World came as a gift-giver. He arrived on a dark cold night and warmed hearts with His presence. Across eternity, from unseen heavens, a lowly stranger delivered a message of hope and salvation. He was and is Good News. He imparted sincerity, touched lives, and graciously gave of his life to fulfill a covenant.

In Him we are both blessed to receive and give. For when we share the miracle of a Messiah by giving His love to others, we receive the blessing. Give the greatest gift – the hope of heaven, the love of the Lord, the promise of forgiveness. And get the warmest feeling on earth. Merry Christmas.

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