When I was a child, every year for Christmas my Grandpa would give me $100 cash. A cool crisp picture of Benjamin Franklin would be tucked inside a card with a note of love from Grandma and Grandpa Davis. As a kid this gift was really amazing. $100 seemed like $1,000,000 to me in those days. It was a great gift that they shared with the grandkids at Christmas time each year.
This gift continued into my college years even after Grandpa had passed away, as my Grandma continued the tradition up until the time she went to be with the Lord in 2008. On the Christmas after Grandma’s death, I had a special present under the tree. Instead of receiving the crisp $100 bill, I had a package to open. When I opened the package, tears welled up as I saw an American flag neatly folded . . . the same American flag given to my Grandma at my Grandpa’s funeral. My Grandfather, Don Davis, proudly served our country in the Army during World War II. The flag is a powerful reminder of a truly great man. At this point in my life, the flag is more valuable to me than all of the $100 bills they gave me over the years. I do not remember any single thing I bought with those $100 bills, but the flag still proudly sits prominently displayed in our Family Room.
I was thinking about this today as I read Luke 21:1-4 about the nature of giving gifts:
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Jesus’ words here remind us that when it comes to giving, there is more at play than which dead president’s picture is on the bill placed in the plate. The circumstance out of which something is given matters. The heart attitude of the giver matters. The size of the gift is measured contextually, not just in dollars and cents. God delights when we give to Him sacrificially and joyfully regardless of how many 0’s are after the comma.
Christmas is a time of giving gifts. Reflecting the ultimate Gift of Jesus Christ, Christians celebrate Christmas each year by giving gifts to loved ones. Some have even taken this principle so far as to indicate that we ought to “give a gift to Jesus” this Christmas. This is a difficult task. What do you get the Person who has everything? But the principle is sound. We want to give things to those we love, and we are tuned in to want to give gifts at Christmas time. We could place a $100 bill in the offering on Sunday . . . or we could take our giving to the next level. Taking into account our current situation, our current opportunity, etc. we can think about what else we might wrap up and place under the “tree.” Maybe it is a commitment to sacrifice some time to serve those in need in your community next year in Jesus name. Maybe it is sharing the Gospel with someone you know does not know Christ. Maybe it is spending time providing assistance to a widow or functional orphan in your neighborhood. Maybe it is giving more financially than you have normally done in the past. Whatever the gift, we should all consider how we can give something sacrificially to Jesus this year.
My Grandpa’s flag is a reminder of His sacrifice, character, and life. A sacrificial commitment of our time, talent, and treasure to the cause of Christ is a similarly well-received gift by our Heavenly Father.