Is Giving Really Better?

As I write this, it’s two days before Christmas, and we all hear platitudes like “tis better to give than to receive” and such… but do we really believe that?  We hear people talking about selflessness and generosity, but do we really practice those things?

I love good quotes, and I recently came upon this one from Ben Franklin:

“How many observe
Christ’s birthday!
How few, his precepts!
O! ’tis easier to keep
Holidays than

Ben’s right on!  It’s so much easier to celebrate Christ’s birth than it is to obey Christ’s teaching.  Yet, Jesus says “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me” (John 14:21).  If we love Jesus then we’ll honor him by how we live.  Jesus doesn’t mince words or give us an “out” around it – he says, “If you love me, you’ll do what I say.”    So what does Jesus say:

“Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”
“Which ones?” the man inquired.
Jesus replied, “ ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony,honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’’”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
(Matthew 19:16–22)

We don’t all have to give away everything we own.  But we should be generous and compassionate towards “the poor.”  Ultimately: Where am I storing up treasure for myself?  Here, where the economy so greatly effects what I have; or in Heaven, where my “accounts” are secure and rock-solid?

Right now we’re preparing for Christmas.  Don’t celebrate Jesus’ birth while ignoring his teaching and commandments.

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