Good and Perfect Gift

December 10, 2017

Christmas is a season of giving. It is because we are celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the best gift that we have ever received. The moment Christmas sets in, there are frenzied activities in the mall and almost everywhere else. People tend to become extravagant as they buy gifts for loved ones and friends, while they too expect to receive a gift from someone during the season. But what if they do not actually receive a gift? How will they deal with it? Will they be resentful and wish that they did not give gifts to others? To encourage those who give gifts but do not receive any in return, the apostle Paul said, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’”  (Acts 20:35).

But why is it more blessed to give? When he said it, the Lord Jesus was also alluding to the bountiful blessings that givers receive from him when they give. He said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). However, in our giving, we should not expect it to work just like a gift exchange where we receive an item of equal value. Rather, we give from our hearts and believe that it is the Lord who will give it back to us. When the Lord eventually rewards our giving, he will do so in his own perfect timing. It might come as a gift during Christmas or some other time. Regardless, let us keep on sowing our seed as we give gifts to friends and relatives.

The apostle James described the gift that comes from God appropriately when he said, “Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). The good gift that he was referring to here is the act of giving, which we receive from the Lord. It is a fact that not everyone is gifted in giving. They would rather receive than give. And because of our good attitude in exercising our gift of giving, the material gift that we receive will be a perfect gift. However, in verse 16, James warned, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.” He said this on the premise that as we wait for the blessing to come, there will be a lot of pressures, trials and persecutions which may tempt us to do wrong and put things into our own hands. If such eventuality happens, we should never blame God, for James had said further, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13).

As we exercise our gift of giving, let us be guided by some attitudes that make our giving pleasing before the Lord. These attitudes are best remembered using the acronym of GIFT. The letter G refers to Generosity. For us to be acknowledged as generous, we need to go beyond what is expected of us.  In a gift exchange, if the amount set is $10, someone becomes generous if he goes beyond that amount. Although it will cost us more to be generous, the Lord nevertheless said, “Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to” (Deut 15:10). The next letter, I, refers to our being Intentional in our giving. Our giving should be well thought out. The apostle Paul said, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7).

The letter F refers to our attitude of Freely giving to others. The Lord Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8). When we give, there should be no strings attached. The moment the gift is handed out, the ownership of that gift belongs to the receiver. He can do whatever he wants with it. If this is our attitude, then we can again be a blessing to whoever will get the item, as the primary receiver passed it on to another person. For letter T, it refers to our gift as a Token of our love. What matters most in our giving is not the monetary value but the love that goes with it. This was the emphasis of the apostle Paul when he described the Macedonians’ act of giving. Though they were poor, they gave generously. He said, “They urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will” (2 Cor 8:4-5).

Therefore, whenever we go out shopping for gifts, let us be guided by the GIFT attitudes. This will make our gifts good, perfect and pleasing before the Lord. Always remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Hallelujah!