Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Grace of Giving (Sermon)

2 Cor. 8.7- But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us--see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

It is almost Christmas, and what better time to talk about the grace of giving than at Christmas. Indeed, many of you have already bought gifts, sent cards, and baked goodies and given them away. Christmas is by its nature a time for giving, but commercialism has all but ruined it with the sales, advertisements, and hype. Too many children miss the spirit of the season for they focus on the receiving of gifts rather than the giving of them to honor our Savior’s Birthday.

On the first Christmas, God gave the first Christmas gift: His only son, who was born to die for our sins. In celebration of this great gift, we give gifts to those we love, but we should not forget that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). In the Christmas story, the magi from the East come and bring gifts to Jesus, and we’ll look more at the wise men next Sunday.

Instead, I want to share with you the four greatest gifts you can give this year.

1. Your time and energy. Help those less fortunate. (John Wesley required that every family in his congregation find a family less fortunate and minister to them) That is what I like to call Basin theology.

a. Pilate - bring me a basin, I’m washing my hands of this. It doesn’t concern me.

b. Christ - bring me a basin, I’m going to wash my disciples’ feet. It was a theology of humility that allowed Christ to minister to them.

When we see those less fortunate, which type of basin theology will we employ? Will we be like Pilate or like Christ.

2. Your love. In the rush of the season, with a thousand little worries and cares, take time to show those around you how much you love them. It doesn’t have to be some grandiose gesture, just take the time to let them know you care. It is so easy with the stress of the season to lose our tempers, to take for granted that which is so important. So make it a priority to show your love to those you love this Christmas. It sounds easy, but don't be fooled. You know every family has at least one relative that is just. . .well, hard to love. You have to make it a conscious decision to love this season.

3. Your life. Christmas is about the birth, not just of a baby, but of our savior and lord. He calls to us. Give me your troubles, your sins, and your weaknesses, and I’ll give you eternal life, grace, peace, and the blessings of heaven. (too many hear give up your fun, but Christ says give up that which will hurt you and leave you empty. I want to give you that which will bring contentment and fulfillment.) It is a daily decision that we have to make. I pray that in this most holy season, you would make that daily decision to live your life for the Lord.

4. Your savior. God has called us to be evangels. To share the good news with those who have not yet heard it. This doesn’t have to be a scary thing. The most effective type of evangelism is relational evangelism. Just be yourself. When opportunities come to share your faith, do so as you would share any other facet of your life with a friend. Too many people want evangelism to be some awkward, unnatural thing, but it should be some thing that just naturally flows from who we are if we belong to Christ.

Tomorrow morning or maybe even this evening, you’ll exchange gifts with those you love. As you do, remember that the best gifts don’t come wrapped in paper. They come from the heart.