In case you haven’t noticed, we’re already in the Christmas season. This is not a bad thing. In fact, we here at Word&Way hope you held onto the previous issue (Nov. 22) containing our annual
Advent devotions pullout, are utilizing our Advent 2012 link on our website, www.wordandway.org, each day or are receiving them from us by email. These devotions will enhance your own celebration of Christ’s coming.
It is always a good time to reflect on God’s gift of Jesus to our world, but there could be no better time than now. Sadly, many will celebrate the season without giving the Savior a thought. This even happens to many people of faith. We can also be in danger of exchanging gifts with each other and our families without giving much thought to imitating Jesus in our own gift-giving.
We lament that Christmas gift-giving is tough on finances that are stretched for a lot of us, that we find ourselves incurring debt to be the kind of friends or relatives we feel we need to be. Christmas gift expectations seem to increase every year.
Here are a few thoughts about gifts that don’t really hurt the budget but might be more beneficial to the recipient(s) than any gift we might purchase.
Give a pint
What I am suggesting, of course, is blood donation. The Red Cross and various other blood banks make it clear that during the Christmas season and other holidays that involve a good bit of automobile travel, the need for healthy, whole blood spikes.
Few believers would have trouble identifying this gift with Jesus, who gave himself sacrificially -- and spilled his own life’s blood -- for the redemption of all who believe on him. We don’t have to be medical professionals to understand the life-giving (or life-sustaining or life-saving) power of a pint of red liquid created in our bodies and routinely replaced in bodies wonderfully created in the first place by God.
Precautions are tight these days to protect the health of would-be blood donors and the safety of potential recipients. The cost of making this gift is nothing but an hour or less of time, but the gift is no mere trinket. It might be priceless.
Pledge an organ
Yes, I know I wrote about this possibility recently, but it is closely akin to giving a pint of blood to someone facing a scheduled or an unexpected surgery. Most often, organ donation is one of those things that we do after we have finished using the body with which God created us. Most of us depart this world with usable organs that could help others live if the deceased and/or next of kin agreed to such a gift.
Most of us have known either someone whose organs benefitted someone else upon death, or we have known recipients whose lives were saved, extended and enhanced because they received what likely was the best gift (or gifts) they ever received. I’m very aware of transplanted kidneys and other organs from living loved ones, too. I admire the living who donate as well as those who clearly state their desire to be organ donors once they are gone.
The cost to the donor? Again, nothing.
The ultimate gift
The ultimate gift is not one any of us can personally give. It is the gift of a relationship with Christ. Still, the ultimate gift rarely is received and acted upon in a human vacuum.
Most of us would have to scratch our heads to recall a personal testimony to faith in Christ that did not include the mention of another person or several other people. These opportunities to introduce others to the good news of Christ come in different forms.
Sometimes we find ourselves giving a reason for our good works. This happens when mission teams engage in benevolent or evangelistic endeavors. “Why are you here?” they are asked, giving a chance for a response like, “God has sent us because of his love for you. Because we love God, we want to be part of his plan for others.”
The Christmas season gives us other chances to tell the gospel story and its significance not only for our own lives but for others, too. All of us have relatives, friends, business acquaintances and others who fit into the category of those who still have not responded in the affirmative to the message of Christ.
The cost of this gift in dollars, of course, is the same as the two other gifts. It costs nothing financially.
The only cost to a believer is withholding gifts like these and others, and failing to reap the blessing of reaching out to others in the name of Christ. We stand to lose the blessing of knowing God has possibly used us to save a physical life or help another person discover eternal life through Christ.
One of those blessings is growing closer to God because we regularly exercise our faith in him. Surely this is what we all want to experience.
Bill Webb is editor of Word&Way.