– Pastor Brandon’s article from the December 2018 Newsletter
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year. With the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you, ‘Be of good cheer.’ It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
Happy December everyone! The holiday festivities are in full swing. Pumpkins are out and trees are in. We’re decorating homes and lighting up neighbor-hoods in anticipation of the big celebration. In the midst of all the fun, it’s important that we take time to remember why we’re doing all of this. As God’s beloved, we’re in awe of the wonderful gift we have in Jesus Christ. God the Son, the Word, the second person of the trinity—eternal, all-powerful, all-loving God—took on human flesh. He was born in a stable, took on the nature of a servant, went to the cross so that we might be forgiven of the evil that lurks in our hearts. What great news! What a wonderful gift indeed!
My wife loves Christmas, especially the giving part. I jokingly call her, “Hannah Clause.” She’s making a list and checking it—well, at least several times to make sure that we haven’t forgotten anyone. It’s an incredible joy for her as she thoughtfully considers how to give to family and friends, and each year I’m learning to appreciate her love for this all the more.
While we’re preparing for all of the giving that goes on this time of year, I’m reminded of the simple phrase “God loves a cheerful giver.” Those words were spoken by the apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian church. He was writing to them about a collection of funds for the believers experiencing hardship in Jerusalem. He describes how followers of Christ were coming together from different parts of the world to help their brothers and sisters. Their giving was generous and even sacrificial. They were willing to go without in order to help others in need.
As Paul makes his appeal to the Corinthian church, he encourages them saying, “Each one should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (I Corinthians 9:7). His instruction is that giving to this cause is a personal choice. Make no mistake, he is encouraging everyone to give, but he says a gift given unwillingly because of guilt or obligation misses the point. We ought not give because we have to but because we are eager and willing. This is the kind of generosity that pleases God: a gift that is freely given without an expectation of anything in return. While Paul is specifically speaking about giving to the poor, I find this mindset is helpful wherever I find myself this Christmas.
So in this season of giving, as we celebrate God’s gift of salvation in his son Jesus, I want to encourage you, “Be of good cheer!” Whether you’re giving a present to a loved one, donating to a cause, or helping someone in need, let the love of God flow through you as you bless one another with the riches of God in Christ. Merry Christmas!