Gift-giving at Christmas should be a joy, not a burden
by Billy Graham
columnist
December 01, 2012 12:24 AM | 1236 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Q: Every Christmas, my brother and his wife always give expensive gifts to our family, and it's always made us feel like we have to do the same for them. But this year we don't have the money to spend that we once did. How can we tactfully suggest to them that we cut down on our gift giving this year? — J.F.

A: The best way is to be open and honest with them about this — and even if they don't take the hint, let your own gift giving this year be in line with what you can afford.

After all, gift giving at Christmas shouldn't be a burden (although I'm afraid it often is). Instead, it should be a joy, because it gives us an opportunity to let others know how much they mean to us, and how much we value their friendship. But when we only give out of obligation, or to impress others — then it gets out of line. We can even give out of guilt, hoping somehow that our gift will make up for the way we've ignored them the rest of the year. Don't let these "reasons" be true of you.

Have you ever asked yourself why we give gifts at Christmas? One reason is because after Jesus' birth wise men came from far away to find Him, and they presented Him with gifts. But more than that, they worshipped Him as the Savior of the world. The Bible says, "They saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him" (Matthew 2:11). Is this your response?

But Christmas is also a time to remember the greatest gift of all — the gift God gave us by sending His Son into the world for our salvation. As this Christmas approaches, may you exclaim with Paul, "Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Q: My uncle says he's going to stop giving to his church because he doesn't think they ought to be spending some of their budget on churches and people in other countries. Is he right to think this way, or is he just being a tightwad? -- K.G.S.

A: I don't know whether or not he's being a tightwad, but I do know he isn't looking at the way his church uses its money from God's point of view. God is pleased when we aren't interested only in ourselves and our needs, but are concerned also about the needs of others.

I couldn't help but think of how the early Christians might have answered your question. Most of them were very poor; some had even lost almost everything they owned because their families or friends turned against them when they became Christians. And yet when they heard about a famine that was affecting people in a distant part of the world, they gave generously to help them. So should we.

Remember: Jesus Christ left heaven's glory and sacrificed His life for our salvation. He did this out of love — and He calls on us to have that same kind of love for others. Pray for your uncle — and be an example to him by your own giving and concern.

We live in a very materialistic, self-centered age — and even those of us who are Christians can be infected by its attitudes. But God calls us to love others just as much as we love ourselves — and to show our love in concrete ways. The Bible says, "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.... God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit www.billygraham.org.
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