No Christmas this Year
I disagree with merchants, parents, and pastors who emphasize that the true spirit of Christmas is the spirit of giving. True, Paul and even Christ said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35. And what about the wise men who brought their gifts to Christ? Isn’t this the heart of the Christmas message? No, I don’t think it is.
What actually happened, what made Christmas Christmas? Isaiah prophesied: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.” Isaiah 9:6. John wrote: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” John 3:16. Paul said: “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.” II Corinthians 9:15.
Here is the very heart of Christmas – and it is giving! I can just hear your puzzled reply: “But you just said giving was not the thing to be emphasized at Christmas!” That’s right – unless you are talking about God – but not if you are talking about men. For the first and only real Christmas (all others are merely in remembrance of it) God was the giver and God was the gift. So, if you are talking about God, the emphasis at Christmas is on giving.
But if you are talking about men, the emphasis, if it is to have any real relationship to that first and only true Christmas, should be on receiving. For Christmas is for “as many as received Him.” John 1:12. The greatest disappointment of Christmas, penned in perhaps the saddest words of the Bible, was that “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” John 1:11. Blessing came to Mary, to the shepherds, to the wise men, to all who received Jesus Christ, God’s indescribable gift, as the One who came to save them from their sins. They were not givers, they were recipients.
When it is a matter of the relationship between God and men, it is always more blessed to receive than to give! “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father.” James 1:17. The least of God’s favors is greater than the sum total of all man’s gifts or even of what I might give Him, including my very self.
What then should our attitude be, to properly commemorate that first Christmas? A readiness to receive from God and a thankfulness for the gift. God’s giving and our receiving only began at Bethlehem. “How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32. God keeps on giving and we keep on receiving. For the Christian, Christmas is never over!
Yet always to be on the receiving end hurts our pride, such is the perversity of human nature. We need to realize that the blessing of the giver can be marred by an ungracious or unthankful recipient.
Christmas can be a “a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions (gifts) one to another.” Esther 9:19. But let us not confuse our overflowing joy with the commemoration of the event itself. Christmas was and is God giving, man receiving, not and never the reverse. Christian giving to others can be and is a Christian grace, but it is in no way a commemoration of what happened that first Christmas.
If you want your Christmas to be a true commemoration of the first Christmas, you will have to be a gracious, open hearted, yielded, thankful recipient of the gift and blessing God is waiting to give you.