Opinion: Giving or getting?


Commentary by Michael VandenBurg

We have just passed through some of the most shopping-filled days that we can experience here in North America. Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In between we have Small business Saturday. Of course each of these, like any good sale, stretches out for days, if not weeks, so as not to lose a sale and turn our bottom line from being in the red to being in the black.

We as faithful capitalists are more than happy to oblige and continue to shop, fill the ever-growing list of wants that over shadow the needs. Like any faithful follower, we American capitalists will look for ever-great methods to find the bargain, even if we don’t really need it. Apps, online, in store, discount, retail, coupons, you name it. We pursue it in the hopes of simply finding that one thing that will ultimately meet our need, our longing, our emptiness.

The problem is that our emptiness, longing and needs can’t be satisfied with drawing resources to us. We can’t shop our way out of loneliness, despair and feelings of anxiety. We can’t buy our solutions, or bargain our way to satisfied living.

Now I am not one of those who is opposed to the gift giving, and Christmas traditions of our past, but let’s pause for just a moment and take a look at what it is that we are trying to accomplish, where that desire comes from and how we can make it more meaningful.

The God who created us is a generous and giving God, one that desires for us, like a parent, the best for their children. We only have to look at the roots of the season we are celebrating to see that “God so loved the world that he gave his only son.” The beginnings of Christmas celebrations is God’s giving his son to share with us the way to live satisfied, healthful and full lives by living them the way they were created to be. Part of our desire to give comes from the God who created us in his image, to reflect his very nature as a giver. It is the outward direction of our desires that fills the holes in our spirit. Outward toward God and outward toward those around us.

Anyone who has ever seen the smile in a child’s face as they open an unexpected gift knows the joy of giving. But have you ever seen the face of someone whom you may not even know that well, come alive as you offer them a gift? It might be an item they need just to make it through the day, it might be time spent with them by their bedside as they struggle for life, or it might even be just giving your companionship, friendship and care to another who is in need of hope. Perhaps that is the best gift giving we can do, to offer ourselves to another, to listen, really listen to them in their need.

Enjoy the gift giving as reflections of your love but never let it become a substitute for your actual love. With it, you will discover that it truly is better to give than to receive.

“For God so loved the world that he gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but instead have eternal life. God sent His son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”  Jn. 3:16-17


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