By Katie Bennett, Contributing Writer.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year. It provides an opportunity to experience and express gratitude to God for sending His Son Jesus to Earth, God with us.
But we can also easily gloss over or completely miss that most central part of the holiday season in the hustle and bustle this Santa-centered culture.
So how do we turn the tide towards Christ at this time of year, really and truly? I think there is more for us than merely sitting through a Christmas Eve service at church.
One way that we do this in our family is in the way we give gifts. Gift-giving can be a powerful force in the Kingdom of God… or it can lead hearts totally away from Him through greed and materialism. I’ve experienced both in my own life.
So, how do we give gifts in such a way that we will point hearts back to Christ? Let me explain.
Showing Christ in the Way We Give Gifts this Christmas
Give Less of Them
Giving tons and tons of gifts can tend to make Christmas about all that exciting stuff, rather than Christ. It can become a distraction and a central focus if we’re not careful.
You know the thing about Christmas presents? The new wears off. They don’t ultimately satisfy. They break and go out of fashion. There’s really nothing of substance to them, when compared with God’s eternal hope and joy. But, because materialism is such a real thing, we can easily give our hearts to these fleeting treasures during the holidays and completely miss the deep blessing of the season.
For our family, we’ve decided to keep gift-giving very simple. Each of our children receive 1-2 well thought-out gifts from us. My husband and I exchange one gift, and we help the kids make or choose a few little gifts for each other and us. We want them to experience the joy of giving and receiving gifts, but we also want them to be grateful for what they’re given.
Of course, they very much look forward to presents, but they are played down in comparison to the many other offerings of the season: togetherness, God’s love, kindness, festivity.
Give Relational Gifts
Rather than giving random, shot-in-the-dark, and potentially meaningless gifts this Christmas, consider giving gifts that promote or represent relationship. This might be a book of memories together, a game to play or an event to attend with the recipient, or a bag of coffee beans simply intended to be enjoyed together.
Relational gifts hold a deeper-than-face-value kind of merit. They celebrate something precious and God-given, and remind us that we are loved and known. In this way, we represent Christ’s love.
Give to Those in Need
This year, my kids and I are participating in Operation Christmas Child for the first time. This is a program where we pack a box of gifts for a child in poverty in another country. And I have to say, this has been such a fun way for them to connect with the joy of giving to those in need.
My husband and I, as part of the Advent Conspiracy movement, have made a point for the past several years to give sacrificially to those in need through organizations like Living Water International. This has completely redeemed and changed how we approach Christmas. Sacrifice on a day typically reserved for being spoiled is good for the soul.
Give Gifts that Provide Employment to those in Poverty, in the Name of Jesus
Since joining the Fairtrade Friday Club, I have grown increasingly passionate about making purchases that intentionally advance the cause of Christ worldwide by providing employment to those in poverty in the name of Jesus.
If you want something special to give to someone special in your life, consider purchasing an item with a story of redemption– gifts that give back.
Shop places like:
Give to Advance the Gospel
Want to get your child excited about the Bible? Give them a Bible that will excite them this Christmas! Or resource them with other spiritually-themed gifts that will point them back to Christ.
Want to get a Bible into the hands of that family member’s who doesn’t know God? This might be your chance. But beware of the heart-hardening that may result if it is not a welcomed gift in their eyes. Sometimes the best way to gain favor in this situation is to give another generous gift to pave the way, in addition to a Bible, as God guides you.