Questions From Readers
● My husband and I are newly dedicated Witnesses. Our relatives are bitter over our having taken this stand. With the coming of Christmas and the customary giving of gifts, they will be antagonized still more because of our refusal to participate therein. Could you give us any pointers on this matter?—R. M., U. S. A.
As dedicated Christians we are first of all concerned with pleasing Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. Secondly, we have the obligation to witness to our acquaintances, neighbors and relatives as opportunity affords. To the extent that we do this effectively they will get to understand how we feel about various matters. Especially will this be so if we mention where the New World society stands on the matter of holidays, personal, political and religious. We can make it clear that we hail Christ as King but deem it unfitting to stress his babyhood today. This we can do with freeness of speech, for we have the satisfaction of knowing that ours is the Scriptural position.
Should we receive Christmas gifts, then what? It does not seem wise at such time to attack the institution of Christmas. Rather than refuse or return them, it would be better merely to express appreciation by word of mouth or letter or card; and, while wholly ignoring any reference to the holiday season, we could use the occasion to make some reference to our New World hope. It may even be advisable to wait until after the holiday season so as to further disassociate our expression of thanks from the pagan celebration.
Nor need we feel apologetic for not also sending a gift at Christmas time although receiving one. In business relations Christmas merely happens to be a convenient occasion for employers to express appreciation for services rendered by means of a bonus. Persons who give merely because of expecting something in return have the wrong motive, one that the Scriptures condemn. (Luke 6:30-36) However, if we feel the impulse to give a gift we could wait until another appropriate occasion or time, and, incidentally, the same is true regarding birthday giving. But at no time should we feel obligated to give a gift because we received one. Also, it is well to remember that in living up to our dedication vows we are giving far more, to more deserving persons and with better motive, than do any Christmas givers. We are giving them the message that can lead them to life.—Matt. 10:8; John 17:3.