It’s not about saying NO to giving gifts; it’s about saying YES to giving better.
How do you give more this year? You give of yourself. Your time. Your talents.
This week at Imprint Church in Woodinville, we kicked off our “Advent Conspiracy” sermon series as part of our lead up to Christmas. If you know Jesus and have received His gift, then you are actually called to become like Jesus this Christmas. Receiving the great gift of Jesus is the foundation of faith and the basis for knowing how to “give more and spend less” at Christmas.
Like Jesus, Christians are supposed to be a gift, too. This is flipping Christmas upside down. The hope of Christ should actually cause us to give more.
But we called the sermon today “Give More, Spend Less.” And in that is the tension of Advent Conspiracy, how can you Spend Less but Give More this Christmas?
As best as we can, we give ourselves. We give gifts that require sacrifice on our behalf.
The world’s goal of the season of Christmas is to get you to spend more. So a conspiracy response would be obvious, right? Spend less.
The gift of Jesus was costly in a different way than just cash. It was giving of himself. So we too, give of ourselves.
This means that the best gifts celebrate a relationship. Sometimes it is cheaper to buy an expensive gift than it is to restore a relationship. But God’s answer for the world’s problems has never been material things. God did not give us more stuff – even good stuff like work, food, or health. He gave us Himself.
Within many of us is a desire to participate in Christmas differently. We want to dwell on the mystery of ‘God with us’ and reject the idea that how much we spend on a gift is somehow connected to how much we love a person. We long for our lives to tell the story of who Christ is and love others as he loved.
Here are three practical ways that you can take a different approach to giving gifts this Christmas season.
1. Give as a tangible expression of God’s heart and Christ’s work.
Once again, we have the opportunity to simply follow the cultural norms of buying, over-spending and busyness. Or we take the opportunity to declare a Kingdom that can’t be bought in a store. Believing that Jesus changed everything when God gave us the gift of His Son. When we trust that Kingdom – it changes the way we give gifts, the way we love the world around us and the way we worship the King.
Don’t we do this with the gift that we’ve been given? Jesus was a gift to us, let us not keep it to ourselves, but give in such a way that we show the message of Christ.
We’re not saying you give Bibles or Jesus junk to your relatives, but you may have to allow yourself to be inconvenienced (it will cost you, not like it did Jesus but it will take time).
2. Give as an invitation for relationship with a person
Take time to really understand people and what they would want… don’t just buy them another tie, another sweatshirt, another gift certificate for Starbucks.
Give in such a way where you actually make a way for building quality time spent together. You have a gift… use it to bless others.
- Teach someone to ________. Then buy them a tool to help with that.
- Think of something that may be outside the box. Maybe your gift is not something you purchase at all. What if your gift is more difficult than that?
- Letting go of a grudge, forgiving a person and reaching out to build a bridge of reconciliation, etc.
Maybe your gift is something you make?
The truth is the amount you spend will never equal the amount you show love to another person.
3. Give as to meet a need
Most of us don’t need more stuff…but we do have needs that are material. Here are some Christmas gift ideas to help meet a need.
- Fixing something around the house
- Food (groceries) or date night gift certificates
- Holiday tipping for servers and people who serve you!
- Look into sponsoring an international child through an organization like Africa New Life ministries.
A caveat: We’re not saying you shouldn’t spend money or give gifts at Christmas. This could be misunderstood. We’re not saying start spending nothing on gifts or don’t get children presents. Actually giving gifts is excellent…it reaches back into the Christmas story. Gifts were given to the Christ child… but Christmas gifts become more than a checklist when we’re able to see our goal as showing others the love God gave you.
So it’s not about saying NO to giving any gifts; it’s about saying YES to giving better.
If you choose to join the conspiracy and rebel a little…let’s not be proud or arrogant in our new way of approaching Christmas….don’t lecture or shame friends and family when/if they don’t do Christmas like you. Rather…remind them of how God slipped into this dangerous world and turned everything upside down one heart at a time.
To watch this recorded sermon on Christmas giving from Imprint Church in Woodinville, download the audio podcast or watch the video on YouTube below.
What better way to prepare for Christmas then with our small church community groups that meet in Woodinville, Kirkland, Redmond, Bothell, and other surrounding areas. Here are the discussion questions on this week’s sermon.
- Talk about some of your favorite Christmas memories and traditions. Can you remember some of the best gifts you’ve ever received? How about the best gifts you’ve ever given?
- Read Matthew 1:18-25 together. What do you observe in this passage? What is the significance of the quote from Isaiah 7? What is significant about the names of Christ given in this passage?
- Read 2 Corinthians 9:15. What is Paul referring to in this passage?
- Receiving the great gift of Jesus is the foundation of faith and the basis for knowing how to “give more” at Christmas. First of all, how have you received the gift of Jesus Christ this year? How has your heart “prepared Him room?”
- The tension of the Advent Conspiracy is knowing how to give more, but quite possibly spending less. How do you do this?
- How can you give sacrificially this Christmas to the people in your life — or the people God might bring into your life this year?
- Consider one way you could do Christmas differently this year in how you give and how you spend. Talk about ideas as a group.