One of the main reasons we have the custom of giving and receiving presents at Christmas, is to remind us of the presents given to Jesus by the Wise Men: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. These were common gifts to give to a King. They were items of high value. Gold as precious metal, Frankincense was a perfume used in Jewish worship, and myrrh was an anointing oil.
At Christmas time, we give gifts to those we love. For some there are token gifts of acknowledgement or appreciation. Like with a neighbor or a friend. Then for extended family their might be expressions of love or identity. Then for immediate family members, you reserve your best gifts to those who are most precious to you.
People give gifts with different meanings, acknowledgments. One of the things many people do is wrap up the gift. Some people search from just the right paper, bow, name tag. Christmas seems to make us more generous. We tend to share more, give more, do more for others this time of year. As we wrap up this year, I want to challenge you give an extraordinary gift to God through First McKinney this year.
Today’s message is going to be like a formula.
A = You were created in the Image of God.
Genesis 1:26-27, "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth'."
You and I were imprinted with God’s image when we were created. In other words, there’s something deep inside of us that is like God. You’ve heard the phrase Like father, like son… there is a resemblance to God within us. If you see my kids, you see they resemble me or their mother. And you and were created in the image of God.
B=God is generous
When you read the Bible there are a lot of characteristics of God. There’s no listing – you piece them together as you read and get to know more about Him. One of those characteristics is His generosity. Sometimes we call it His grace. John 3:16 famously reads, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." How generous is God? He gave his one and only Son for you and me.
So if A=B and B=C
If you were made in the image of God, and God is generous, then there’s something deep inside you that’s wired for generosity. You may not always feel generous but you were created to be generous. It’s wired into your very being. So when you give, you are acting like God. When you give you are fulfilling a part of what is inside you. You fulfill your purpose.
Here are a few other reasons to give:
When we give, we make God smile.
As a dad, I like giving my children gifts, meeting their needs and being a protector, provider, encourager, and supporter. But it makes my heart smile when I see them giving gifts to others from their heart. I imagine God looks at us in much the same way when we give. He loves it when we give... When we put others first... When we choose to give instead of keeping it with a “that’s mine”
When we give, we also position ourselves for blessings.
You might not understand it and I might not be able to fully explain it, but there’s something supernatural that happens when our finances come into alignment with God’s heart. Romans 8:32 says, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"
God is a generous God who gives us many blessings in life. Those blessings are not limited to financial. In fact, a $100 gift to God may not result in a $100 blessing but you do receive a blessing whether you can see it or not. And it’s always in His perfect timing.
When we give, we gain perspective.
Have you ever met someone who went on a mission trip? Mission trips can be expensive. Airfare, hotels, food, supplies, gifts you bring to the international workers… You can spend thousands of dollars to travel to another context to work with children or work on a house or work with a church group. But when you talk to those that return they say – that was life changing. Impactful. Never be the same. They talk about the experience as if it was one of the most important things they’ve ever done.
I’ve never met one person that said, I wished I would not have invested that money in other people. I wished I would have kept it to download more movies on Netflix. I wished I would have kept more of it for me. You don’t hear that story because spending money on other people is a reflection of the giving God. People will often have buyer's remorse about something they buy but rarely do you see someone who has giver’s remorse.
Jesus put it this way, Matthew 6:21 reads, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
The Bible teaches that money isn’t solely a financial issue. It's primarily a spiritual issue. Our money and our heart are connected.
Where we send or spend our money says something about what we truly value and when we give, it’s a statement on what’s truly important to us.
When we give, we partner with God through His Church.
God invites us to participate with Him. And when we give, that's what we are doing. We are joining God in His mission in the world.
What would God have you give? Enjoy the freedom and blessing of being obedient. We are a part of a unique work. Don't you want to be a part of something extraordinary? Maybe you’ve never imagined giving this way. Please consider how God is working in your heart to give this Christmas season.
— firstmckinney (@firstmckinney) December 6, 2015