*Name changed to insure privacy
I am of the opinion that we live in a society where unfounded gift giving has run rampant. Nonetheless, my wife, Maria, - who, incidentally, lovingly doesn't agree with me on the issue - is a liberal gift giver. I claim that I am a conservative in that area. I use the word "conservative" in order to avoid using the terms "stingy" and "tight-wad," terms some may think appropriate to describe my attitude on the topic.
Now, in fairness to me, let's be candid on this point. We are expected to give gifts at almost every turn in our lives: Engagement gifts, shower gifts, marriage gifts, baby gifts, Christmas gifts, Easter gifts, birthday gifts, anniversary gifts, house warming gifts, employer gifts, employee gifts, get well gifts, farewell gifts, welcome gifts, monetary gifts to the families of the deceased (something I find a warm, caring gesture), to name a few. However, the list is much longer than this.
But even in the caring gesture of giving monetary gifts to the loved ones of dearly departed souls who have gone on to their reward, some get carried away. As an example of this, *Mario, one of my brothers-in-law, will go to extreme lengths to collect money for the families of relatives, friends and acquaintances, who have suffered the loss of a loved one. It's a considerate, touching gesture, and one to which I always have generously responded - until Mario heard that one of his third cousins, who lived some 1,500 miles from us had passed away. Mario, himself, had met the man only once; I had never met him - didn't even know he existed. That made no difference to Mario; he hopped in his Buick and visited all those on his long "come-on-let's-give-list," including his nearby first, second and third cousins, and his siblings, leaving Maria and me for last.
"Now look here, Mario," I remonstrated, "I don't mind contributing to the families of those I know. But I draw the line at contributing to the funeral expenses of someone I've never heard of, whose family lives 1,500 miles away."
My protest didn't faze Mario. As the eldest of Maria's siblings, and my senior by several years, he evidently felt it our duty to imitate his example in dealing with distant relatives when it came to gift giving. Mario is a determined, persuasive brother-in-law; I contributed.
Sincere believers sometimes are at a loss regarding how to view the practice of gift giving. The Bible offers the answer. God, himself, was the first Christmas gift-giver. In 2nd Corinthians 9:15, the Apostle Paul exclaimed, "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift." The gift to which Paul referred is, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The word "gift" in this scripture finds its root in the Greek word, "dora." It literally means "a present." Therefore the three Magi did not give the first Christmas presents. God the Father gave the very first Christmas present to humanity in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Bible further reveals that all three Persons of the Godhead are gift givers and salvation, itself, is a gift from the Triune God to us (Ephesians 2:8).
Referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 4:8-14 records that, "When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive and gave gifts (presents) unto men." The presents Christ Jesus gave to the Church are ministerial in nature - apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (some Bible scholars link the last two together as pastor-teachers).
Christ gave these ministry gifts for a definite purpose (verses 12-13): "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith . . . unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."
The Holy Spirit not only is a giver of gifts, He also is a gift to us. According to Acts 2:38, the Apostle Peter refers to the Holy Spirit as such: " . . . ye shall receive the gift (present) of the Holy Spirit." In Acts 8:20, the Holy Spirit is called " . . . the gift of God."
Jesus promised He would send us the Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit. It is evident then, that the Holy Spirit is the gift given to us by God the Father and by Jesus Christ His Son. Both have made us a present of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is a giver of gifts. 1st Corinthians 12:4 records that "there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit." In this passage the word gifts is rooted in a different word than "dora." It derived from the Greek word "charisma," defined as a "gratuity, a freely given favor." In giving us His gifts, the Holy Spirit has granted them gratuitously - as free favors,
God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the blessed Holy Spirit are the ultimate, supreme gift givers. Therefore, in presenting gifts believers are following a pattern established by the Supreme Godhead. As we emulate their example in this, we should also emulate their attitude; that of being openhanded, generous and loving, remembering that "God so loved the world that he gave . . ."
My wife, Maria, and her brother, Mario, are correct on the issue of gift giving; as children of God, we constantly must be openhanded toward others.
© Josprel (Joseph Perrello)