Buy the Gifts Others Want Only If They Are On Sale
Ed, my neighbor next door, gets more irritated with the Christmas season each year. Ed feels that there is always more and more pressure on him to spend his money. Nothing gets Ed muttering more than when he finds out the price he paid wasn’t the lowest possible price. Ed wants me to go back to work at Walmart. Now he has to check out prices there himself. When I worked there, he often wanted me to find out what price something was at Walmart. He then could compare it with the price he was looking at, elsewhere. Best part then, for Ed, was when I would buy an article for him when I was working there. Ed gave me the purchase money, but he got free pickup and delivery through me.
Ed feels victimized by all the sales which start on Black Friday and don’t even end at December 25th. Ed claims that the problem with sales is that to save money you have to spend money. Ed says that, at Christmas, he gives gifts that others don’t really need but want. He won’t buy the gifts they want unless they are on sale, and checking out all the sales is frustrating.
I suggested to Ed that he might like to buy, the kind of gifts that folks really need in the developing world. I told him for $10 he could give a mosquito net. Every 60 seconds a child in Africa dies from malaria. Since Ed likes to fish, I said that for $15, he could give a fishnet capable of providing both food and livelihood to a family. Likewise, for $45 he could give a flock of chickens, another gift resulting in food and income for a family. Since Ed seemed doubtful at $45, I suggested a fuel-efficient stove for $20. These stoves use less fuel and cut cooking time in half. Ed said that I should give those gifts myself since I was so eager for him to spend his hard earned money.
I told Ed, “We have given the mosquito net, fishnet, and fuel-efficient stove in the past, but this year we are giving a pair of goats. In fact, we could give them in honor of you as a gift in your name. A pair of goats means milk for drinking, manure for gardens, and meat for meals, for the reasonable price of $75.”
“Don’t go giving any gift in my name, if I wanted to give a gift I would do it myself,” Ed snapped as he left.
The great thing about God’s gift to us at the first Christmas was that it was the gift we truly needed. God gave Jesus, the Lamb of God, to take away the sins of the world. The baby born at Bethlehem means God has provided in Jesus his total love and acceptance for all. Our total acceptability before God is a gift. Like any gift, it can be accepted or rejected. God sees us as totally acceptable and righteous before Him right now. It is not because of what we do or have done but because of what God has done for us in Christ.