“There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—ACTS 20:35.
A reason why some celebrate Christmas.
As Jesus stated, giving makes both the giver and the receiver happy. In pursuit of that happiness, many view gift-giving as one of the most important features of Christmas. Even during last year’s economic crisis, one survey found, for example, that in Ireland, each household expected to spend over 500 euros (about $660 U.S.) on Christmas gifts.
Why is it a challenge?
Many feel that Christmas gift-giving brings more stress, not more happiness. How so? A lot of shoppers feel compelled to buy gifts that they cannot afford. And since everyone is shopping for gifts at the same time, crowds and long lines make shopping an exasperating experience for many.
What Bible principles can help?
“Practice giving,” said Jesus.* (Luke 6:38) He did not limit gift-giving to a certain time of the year when people would be expected to give. Jesus urged his followers to make spontaneous gift-giving a practice, a way of life.
“Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) The essence of Paul’s counsel is that “nothing is ever to be given ‘from compulsion,’ from a feeling that one is forced to give,” explains one Bible commentary. Being “a cheerful giver” rules out the feeling of being obligated to give a specific item to a specific person at a specific time—the way Christmas gift-giving often turns out to be.
“If the readiness is there first, it is especially acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what a person does not have.” (2 Corinthians 8:12) God does not require Christians to go into debt to pay for expensive gifts. Rather, when a person gives ‘according to what he has,’ his gifts are not merely tolerable but “especially acceptable.” What a refreshing contrast to the “buy now, pay later” message of advertisers during the holidays!
Some Bible translations simply say: “Give.” In the original Greek, however, the verb form denotes continuous action. To convey the full sense of the word that Jesus used, the New World Translation renders it “practice giving.”