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Monday, December 8, 2008

Give a Gift to Jesus by Giving a Gift to Others this Christmas

I've been thinking a lot about leadership and involvement and how they are lived out at Christmas. We are in that precarious time of year when the "haves" and the "have-not's" become more and more distinct. Now, I have to admit that my family and just about everyone I know falls into the "haves" category. We are truly blessed as a family and I hope we do not take that for granted. God is better to my family than we really deserve.

However, I still find myself thinking of how I would like this or that, how great it would be if I could get that "special something" for Rochelle, or how much I would love to get that new phone for my daughters or this or that for others. In fact, I honestly spend a whole lot more time concerned about what I cannot give to my family rather than what I am giving. Truth of the matter is I really don't need anything and, sorry girls, my family really doesn't lack for anything either. We are blessed beyond measure and the gifts I am giving are very nice.

But then I am confronted with that large Christmas tree in our church foyer that has names of families from our own church who will not have any kind of Christmas without my help and the help of others... you know, us "haves." They really are the "have-not's." Their concern is not what they cannot give out of all the multitude of the things they are giving, their concern is feeding their families and keeping the electricity on for one more month.

Yeah, we've taken a few names from the tree. The least we can do, right? And even yesterday Emily pulled another name of a little boy who only wanted a toy monkey for Christmas (that kind of hit me because our dog has two toy monkeys as toys himself). So, we'll buy for these families and give our obligatory gifts and that will end our level of involvement in their lives. How sad a commentary on me and my level of Christianity and leadership. Jesus said that as we do unto the least of these we do unto Him. I kind of think that if I was buying a gift for Jesus I might also want to get more involved in His life, don't you? Truth is though, according to His own words in Scripture, I am buying gifts for Him by buying gifts for the least of these. Buying gifts for my friends and family is not buying gifts for Jesus, they are not the least of these and neither am I this Christmas. But buying for families who might otherwise not receive anything this year, let alone even have electricity truly is buying for Jesus.

On December 21st our church is delivering these gifts. I have to admit stuff like this makes me uncomfortable as a "have." Not the buying of the gift, but the delivering of the gift. Am I somehow afraid of the "have-not's?" I don't know their circumstances but yet my own humanness puts up walls that my Christianity must tear down. I may be a "have" this year in the material sense, but it was not that long ago in God's time frame that I was more of a "have- not" than anyone I'll buy a gift for this year. I was spiritually lost and had nothing until I accepted God's gift in Christ. God is definitely a "have" and we are "have-not's." Yet He continues to reach out to the "have-not's" offering His Son as the greatest gift ever given. And once the gift is received He continues to stay involved in our lives. I think this year I want to be more like God. I am not only giving the gift but I want to help deliver the gifts to these families on the 21st. I want to find a way, even if for a brief period of time, to become involved in their lives.

Think about it for a minute, how much more meaningful would the gift be if it was accompanied by our involvement in their lives? On the same line of thought, how much would God's gift really mean to us if He never got involved in our lives? The value of Christ would still be the same, but I somehow think that in our materialistic American mindset it would not mean near as much. Is that too much for us to admit this holiday season?

God's gift of Salvation includes His gift of new life and His presence in us. What an example for us to follow as we give gifts this year, both to the other "haves" in our lives as well as to the "have- not's."

Just thinking out loud...

Lead Strong,
Shawn

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