Is Christmas Giving Christian?
GIVING is a commendable thing. It makes other people happy, but the greater happiness goes to the giver. Christ pointed this out when he said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” So great happiness should accompany giving. Since this is the time of year when there is more giving in Christendom than usual, happiness should abound. But does the main joy of Christmastime stem from giving?—Acts 20:35.
All too often Christmas givers give merely to conform to what is fashionable and so lose out on true happiness. Some give to gain publicity or personal honor. “When you start making gifts of mercy,” said Christ Jesus, “do not blow a trumpet ahead of you, just as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be glorified by men. Truly I say to you, They are having their reward in full. But you, when making gifts of mercy, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, that your gifts of mercy may be in secret; then your Father who is looking on in secret will repay you.”—Matt. 6:2-4.
The Founder of Christianity thus makes it plain that not all giving merits a reward from God. Not all giving, then, is Christian giving.
Is Christmas giving Christian? If it is, not only should great happiness stem from it, but it should also be based on Bible principle. Christmas giving is basically an exchange of presents. But where is this example set in the Bible?
The so-called wise men or magi gave presents to the young child Jesus. But here there was no exchange of presents. In any event, they set no example for true Christians, for the magi were demon-worshiping astrologers condemned by God’s Word, as at Isaiah 47:13, 14 (AV); 2 Kings 17:16 and other scriptures.
No, Christ never authorized an exchange-of-presents type of giving. Giving just to receive again, as many persons do during the great Christmas exchange, has no encouragement from Christ Jesus. Christmas deludes many into putting a premium on selfishness. Showing that Christian giving is no mere exchange of presents, Christ said: “And if you do good to those doing good to you, really of what credit is it to you? Even the sinners do the same.”—Luke 6:33.
What, then, is Christian giving? Christ defines it: “When you spread a dinner or evening meal, do not call your friends, or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors. Perhaps some time they might also invite you in return and it would become a repayment to you. But when you spread a feast, invite poor people, crippled, lame, blind; and you will be happy, because they have nothing with which to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous ones.”—Luke 14:12-14.
It is heart-cheering when we see this kind of giving, some of which does occur at Christmastime. But all too often it occurs only at Christmas. Christian giving, on the other hand, is not limited to one day of the year. It is directed toward needy persons the other 364 days of the year too.