Thank You, Lord, for teaching me that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Help me to give selflessly, simply to bless others.

Focus of the Month: Christmas Memories… The memory of the righteous is a blessing.
The kitchen floods with smells of sweet breads, cookies and candies as myself, my mom, and my sisters prepare the delicacies to include in the holiday gift baskets. The finishing touches of colored cellophane, curled ribbons, and Christmas greetings are set in place. We load the baskets in the big van and head out to deliver the goodies to friends and neighbors across town. Giving takes time, effort, finances, preparation, and delivery…sacrifice. Yet, it is recorded that Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). How can that be? All the work is wrapped up in the giving. We spent the month of November learning about sowing and reaping; planting seeds and harvesting the results. Scripture teaches us whatsoever we sow, we reap. When we give, we receive back. And that can be anything – not just “stuff.” Give a smile. I bet you get a smile back. Give a hug. You simultaneously are hugged in return. Give a harsh word. More times than not, you receive harsh words back. Some things we give, we receive back instantly, in like form. Other things, not so much. But we do still receive something. However, the heart of our giving isn’t what we will get in return, but it is that we are selflessly blessing another. In Matthew 2:11, we read about the wise men giving gifts to the baby Jesus:

“And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

What motivated the wise men to offer these extravagant gifts to the baby Jesus? Was it because they knew they would receive back gifts from Jesus? I don’t think so. The wise men were in such awe of the King of the Jews being born in the earth that they simply wanted to reverence Him, worship Him, and bless Him by presenting these treasures to Him. Have you ever done something good for someone else – just because? Purchased that perfect item for another, simply to bless them? Or secretly surprised someone, no strings attached? Why? What motivates us to do such things? Love. A heart that loves, gives. God loved the world – so much that He gave His Son. Jesus loved us, and so He gave Himself up for us as an offering and sacrifice to God. We, too, give as we love others. It was my mother’s idea to prepare those sweet delicacies, make them look pretty, and deliver them with merry notes. What was my mother’s motivation? Love. We girls helped – initially because we were told to, I’m sure. But in working together, our hearts locked in with our mother’s purpose and with each other, and the preparation of these gifts became something we looked very forward to each year. Today, it has become an especially fond memory of Christmases past. …I can almost smell the kitchen now! Do you have a Christmas Memory of preparing, working, giving, sacrificing – simply to bless another? Recall those memories and let the love that motivated you then, warm your heart today. Holding Fast to Hope, Maryann
Scripture References: Proverbs 10:7a; Acts 20:35; Galatians 6:7; Luke 6:38; John 3:16; Ephesians 5:2