“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”—Acts 20:35, NIV
Knowing the season of “More! More! More!” was quickly approaching, I decided to at least try grounding the kids a little before the blitz began. I thought the Beatitudes (Blessed are the meek, for they shall…) would be a good place to start. The Message translates a portion of the Beatitudes that’s hard to beat.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”—Matthew 5:5-6
Now, how to make our children and quite frankly myself believe we could be happy owners of NOTHING. If you can’t play with, read or wear it, it’s nothing, right?! How to do without EVERYTHING that can’t be bought…? What about the toy motorcycle? The ball? The stuffed animals? The books? The clothes? Bu-bu-bu-but…..?!
Once again, I find myself learning lessons from God through two of my greatest teachers, Andrea and Michael. I gave tokens of love by giving them spare change to put in the Bell Ringers’ buckets outside the stores…I was setting a good example, you see. However, Andrea and Michael brought their whole piggy banks to “give to the poor” because we’d talked about it during our morning devotions. Where’s my heart if I can’t give until it becomes a true sacrifice? Here I’ve been telling the kids, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive,” (Acts 20:35) yet they were the ones to live it out.
I was really proud of a treasure box of memories I’d made for my friend, complete with an original poem on beautiful paper, a hand-decorated paper mache lid I’d worked on for hours, and mementos of laughs we’ve shared through the years. In the course of making this gift (you can’t buy memories, so I was on the right track…right?!), my kids “got in the way” by…Heaven forbid…needing lunch, sounding out words in a book, reaching something that was too high for them, etc. I told them to find something to do.
To keep busy and out of mommy’s way, Andrea decided to make her own gift by drawing a picture of the manger scene—complete with a lamb (“Jesus is the Lamb of God, Mom…”). Michael also drew a picture, only it was of a “dark cave with a stone—because Jesus died for our sins.” It seems while I’d buried myself in the frenzy of the season, my kids still retained the real meaning behind it.
God gave us a tremendous gift when Jesus was born. He gave us access to it when Jesus died. His gift is free, promises eternity, and it can’t be bought. There’s nothing in this world I could give back to God that would pay for the gift He gave me. That is what He asks me and you to give others. Gracious giving is to give the gifts that can’t be bought. Not just at Christmas, but the whole year through. Give your love. Give your time. Give your heart. Give your attention. Give your talent. Give from what you’ve freely been given. Give when you KNOW you could never be paid back. You will find yourselves bursting from the best meal you’ll ever eat—the Divine nourishment and sustenance only Jesus can give. Merry Christmas!!
“Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.”—Matthew 10:8-10
Rhonda DiGenova and her husband of 31 years are empty nesters in Vancouver WA. Their children are thriving adults—in spite of colossal parenting fails. Andrea is now 24, married and lives in Idaho. Michael is 23 and works full time in eastern Washington. Both are actively involved in ministering to college students.