Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! ‘Tis the season of yuletide, the joyous occasion where families gather together around warm fireplaces and celebrate slightly embarrassing but warmly nostalgic traditions. The annual family dinner at grandma and grandpa’s. The giddy longing for the year’s first snowflake. There is a lot to look forward to in this season, but not for everyone. For some, snowfall poses a threat to safety and comfort. The holidays can serve as a reminder of loss, of heartbreak, of all that there isn’t to be thankful for.
Giving isn’t simply an action… It is a commitment to “remember the poor.”
Yuletide is known as the season of giving. And it makes sense – in our abundant joy from the merriment of peppermint mocha and adorable small children puffed up in winter garb like little snowmen, we often extend ourselves outward toward giving to the less fortunate. This time of year, the need tends to be greater as well – the elements pose more of a threat, the darkness makes it harder or less safe to access resources. Even so, the need is present all year round. To remember the needs of others when we aren’t culturally reminded by holiday festivities or physically reminded by our own discomfort in the elements – that is rare.
I believe that giving isn’t simply an action. It is the spiritual discipline of generosity, a mindset of otherness. It is a commitment to “remember the poor” (Gal. 2:10 NASB). Paul understood as he was writing to early Christian communities in Galatia that the discipleship of Christ cannot be separated from a dedication to the poor, those who have been disenfranchised by the socioeconomic macrostructure. Being a Christian means being committed to the cause of the poor. That isn’t a seasonal thing, as much as being a Christian isn’t a Sunday activity.
So what does it look like to develop a spirit of giving? For starters, I don’t think it is only a money thing. The wealthiest people can give billions of dollars away, but that doesn’t mean they care or are being generous. Rather, Jesus said, “All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but [the poor widow] out of her poverty put in all she had to live on… This poor widow has put in more than all the others.” (Luke 21:4,3). Giving, to God, isn’t about the amount but the heart. And God wants your whole heart, not just a fraction. What does it look like for you in this season to pursue giving God your whole heart? The journey of learning God’s heart is a lifelong one, where we will never get to the “finish line” but find joy in the endless pursuit of falling in love more and more with Jesus and giving Him even the parts of our heart we are afraid to consider – our family, our security, our future. As we step into this season of giving, take some time to reflect on our Savior who modeled the ultimate humility by taking on the feeble form of a child and gave His life to set us free from sin and death.