But King David said to Onan, "No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing." 1 Chronicles 21:24
So, I've been thinking a lot about Christmas for obvious reasons. I still have a bit of shopping to do but a lot of it has been taken care of already. I'm still trying to get into the groove of how much to buy my kids and what to buy my kids. We want to bless them abundantly because they're ours. But we also don't want to spoil them and we already have a lot of toys. So, I've definitely been pondering that. I've also been stewing about some other aspects of gift giving that might be a bit unconventional.
Christmas every year is always a stretch financially. Isn't it for most of us? If we had all the money in the world, it might be easy (financially anyway) but then Christmas wouldn't be about giving. It'd be about distributing. It's not that we don't have money, it's that we have to decide how much we can afford to spend. And that is good and wise. But sometimes I feel like I get to the point of being too frugal. I'm thinking much more about the cost than about the gift itself. And I justify it by reminding myself I'm being practical and all. But when it comes down to it, I'm really being a hoarder. I'm being greedy. I have money. I just want to spend the least amount possible to be able to save the rest for myself. In essence, I want to give gifts that didn't cost me anything.
Now hang with me. I'm not saying it's bad to get gifts on sale. Nor am I talking about people who are truly financially strapped and can't afford much more than some oranges in their kids' stockings. But most of us, if we're being honest, don't fall into that category. And I'm not talking about putting it on the credit card either because I think that's unwise too. Hear me. We live on a single teacher's income in California and we still don't fall into that category. Most of us can afford to give to our families and those around us something at Christmas time. And that giving should cost us. It should push us. Really, we should give to the point of it hurting. That may look like a lot for some and a little for others. But that's because I'm not talking about the price of the gift, but rather the cost-the cost to us personally that it took to give. Because really, that's what giving is.
There have been many times this Christmas season that I've wanted to hold back and just go with the bare minimum because that's what is natural for me. I'm not naturally giving. And every time that daunting phrase, "I'm not going to give something that didn't cost me anything" pops into my head and whips me into shape. I can't escape it for some reason and it's really been teaching me that my giving should hurt. It should be a stretch. It should cost me.
The reason I think is because of what Christmas stands for in the first place. God gave us Jesus, his ONLY Son, and He didn't do it half-way. He didn't look down at the earth and say, "Hmmmm...maybe I'll only send Him for a little while or, how can I still save them without giving up my most beloved possession-my Son?" No, God gave to the point of it hurting-literally even, for us by giving us Christ. And Christ, when He went to the cross, gave in that same manner. He gave his life, for us. It cost God everything. Everything. He didn't hold back. He did that so that we could become children of God.
"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are." 1 John 3:1
I think, when it comes down to it, that I don't want to give in this way because I'm fearful. I'm afraid that if I give too much, I'll be wanting in the future. But God says it doesn't work that way anyway. "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine." Proverbs 3:9-10 I definitely shouldn't give to get but I also shouldn't worry that my giving unto the Lord is going to make me destitute. It's mysterious how it works out but I have to learn to give my utmost and let God take care of the rest. It's good to save and good to be wise. But in the end, I can't take anything with me anyway.
So Christmas is about giving. We hear that all the time. But it's not just about giving anything. It's about really sacrificing to give. I don't think we should feel bad about that. If it's hurting, we're probably heading in the right direction. Not that we should borrow money to give or give big expensive gifts just to show how well off we are. Our gifts should simply reflect how much it really cost us to bless the other person, whatever they are.
I think, when we can get ourselves there, then we're headed in the right direction.
I have a long way to go on that journey. A long way. But here's to trying to put one foot in front of the other. Lord willing, I'll have many more Christmases to practice.