December: the Season for Giving

It’s supposedly a “giving season.” We start around November and go through December 25th in a crazy rush over the many happenings that occur, and we call it “the Christmas shopping season.” We have an entire “season” dedicated to shopping; to buying more stuff. Now we call it a season of giving. But how often do we give without expectation of receiving anything in return? How often do we give because of that expectation? Would we even give at all if we knew that there was no personal gain involved? We talk about the “poor and needy” even as we pass them on the street, while our thoughts remain on our own needs. We then proceed to discuss “good will toward men” while we think about our in-laws that we hate and pay no attention to the homeless man shivering on the corner. We let myriad opportunities to serve each other fly by without a second thought. We think, “I’m too busy. I don’t have money. I don’t have time.” We are busy because we’re out spending money and time on things for me, myself, and I. All of it is for ourselves.

We’re bombarded with advertisements telling us how to give to others in a way that will cause us to receive something even better in return. We are told to give so that we can get. Its called a giving season, yet all we’re really focused on is getting.

We say Christmas time is about Jesus. How often do our thoughts turn to Him? We’re victims of the American Dream. We claim to follow Christ, and yet how often do we check ourselves against His teachings? How often do we truly give? How often do we truly love our neighbor? “And we remind ourselves that to love means to give until it hurts…” (Mother Teresa). Loving and giving are inextricably intertwined. One does not come without the other. If you can do without it, then it’s not truly giving. How often do we consider the needs of the widows and orphans? Very little. All I see in this time of year is a flurry of activity for more, more, more, based on the “I, Me” mentality. It’s so contrary to everything that we say we love about this season.

We sit in our warm homes and complain about the cold while there are those who don’t have a home to go to; we celebrate the holidays with food while twenty-five percent of school-age children in the United States are malnourished due to lack of food, and then we complain about how expensive the food was; we look at a child who has no jacket in the cold and we think, “Poor kid,” but we pass him by and do nothing. There are children in slavery. There are are people starving across the globe. There are those who are ill and have no way of treating their illness. There are women aborting their babies because nobody cared enough to give her the love and support she needed. There are men who are unable to provide for their families. And we think that we’re “giving” by handing over an unnecessary item to someone who already has everything they could ever ask for.

Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and justice kiss each other. (Ps. 85:10).

Doing justice for the fatherless and the oppressed, so that men of the earth may terrify them no more.  (Ps. 10:18)

“I will now rise up,” says the Lord.  “I will put in a safe place the one who longs for it.” (Ps. 12:5).

“Has this love I speak so loudly of quietly grown cold?” -Big Daddy Weave

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” -Mother TeresaImage