Giving and Receiving Things That Matter—Year Round
Who doesn’t like gifts? And what follower of Jesus doesn’t like giving gifts (cf. Acts 20:35)? I know that some people (by nature) enjoy gift giving and/or receiving more than others,1 but surely all Christians want to be “cheerful givers.” I’m not talking about overindulging in the worldly American culture (which we are tempted to do). I’m not referring to buying a child a gift every time mom runs to Wal-Mart (because the spoiled kid misbehaves until he gets what he wants). We don’t ever want to encourage covetousness and materialism in children or adults.
In my lifetime, I’ve received more good gifts than a man deserves. I received a watch once in college when I really needed one. (It came anonymously in the campus mail after I had spent most of the semester bugging classmates to tell me the time.) As a wedding present from dear friends, my wife and I received a copy of Dave Ramsey’s book Financial Peace. (What young married couple with a limited income would not benefit from some practical money-management advice?) I’ve long said that one of the best gifts I have ever received (quite unexpectedly from a friend) was a 4x2-inch electronic device called an iPod. (At the time I was not very familiar with iPods.) For 10 years I’ve carried this compact 2008 “doohickey” (as my dad would call it) around with me. On it is the Bible and nearly 1,000 Bible classes and sermons, not to mention a number of educational and spiritually uplifting books.
Friends, Christians are in the “gift business.” We are recipients of the greatest gift ever imagined—eternal life through Jesus Christ.2 We’ve received a host of spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), including peace, joy, and happiness. Why not resolve to be a great gift giver? Perhaps “greater” in quantity and quality.
By the grace of God, Apologetics Press offers thousands of electronic materials on our Web site for free—from articles to PDF books, from a Bible class curriculum to home study courses. Sometimes a nice little “gift” might be in the form of a helpful link to a friend who has been struggling with a particular Bible question. Of course, you could also assist in the development of a child’s faith by purchasing them a subscription to Discovery—a magazine on Scripture and science for kids.3 You could help a struggling teen by providing them a copy of Always Be Ready (…to give a defense, that is).4 You could help shore up a college student’s faith by getting them one of AP’s newest books, Does God Exist5 or Science vs. Evolution (2nd Edition)?6 You could “go all out” for a friend or family member and purchase an old CD player or a relatively inexpensive MP3 player and get every CD or audio download that AP offers.7
Christians are givers, not just at Christmas and birthdays, but 365 days a year. Often the best gifts are (1) those that come at the most unexpected times, and (2) those that are what we need, but not necessarily what we wanted or would have purchased ourselves. The real gifts that keep on giving are those that nurture precious immortal souls in preparation for eternity.
1 See Gary Chapman (1995), The Five Love Languages (Chicago: Northfield).
2 John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 1:4; 15:57; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5; Revelation 22:17. See Eric Lyons and Kyle Butt (2004), Receiving the Gift of Salvation (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/store/Product.aspx?pid=47.
7 http://www.apologeticspress.org/store/Category.aspx?cid=6; http://www.apologeticspress.org/store/Category.aspx?cid=29.