For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Matthew 25:29.
You know the best thing about giving? It’s giving again. Just ask the men who play Santa Claus.
Recently there was a story in the local (Dallas) news about a woman who took her kids to see the same Santa Claus every year for decades. She had several dozen picture of kids, year after year, sitting with the exact same actor. He was like family to her, and when he moved to a new location, she loyally took her business to see him. This year is different, however, because in 2017 the man passed away. The story outlined the woman’s sadness at losing the man who had become a part of her life. And it also focused on her thankfulness for having known him. Something about him kept her coming back to him year after year.
And something about being Santa kept him coming back year after year. I’ve never worn a Santa suit but I’m betting that the reason so many people do so year after year is a giving heart. It’s about giving little kids a smile, and a little agape love, and seeing them happy. It’s about sharing part of the magic that is the Christmas season. Even unbelievers can’t deny that there is a buzz in the air during Christmas. That buzz is love, and it’s love exemplified through giving.
Here in Matthew 25, Jesus said that a giving heart compounds love. Don’t be sucked into a materialistic interpretation of the verse: what Christ is really talking about is love. When you love, you get love in return. When you give out of love, you receive more than you give (even if you receive nothing physical in return). When you love unconditionally, you begin to know God’s heart. It’s the heart behind it that grows. More importantly, God’s glory grows as His love is shared. What’s more, when we give out of love, we store up real treasure in heaven, where we will be able to fully embrace all of God unencumbered by the hazy filter of our sins.
We all want more of that. Even those who believe in neither Jesus nor Santa Claus want more love. If you want to break the ice with someone who’s hostile, you start with kindness, giving them the gift of yourself unsheltered. As the walls break down, you give more and more, and the hostile person’s demeanor usually changes. After all, what was missing in Mr. Scrooge’s heart? Love, and when there was no love his capacity to give, to share, dried up. When the love returned, so did his giving.
That’s the aspect of Santa Claus which is so attractive. It isn’t really the idea of getting something you want for free. No, what keeps kids believing in Santa is that he loves freely and gives even more freely. It doesn’t take much effort, then, to mature from Santa to learning about the life of Jesus and the real reason for Christmas. Noodle it for awhile and you see that the love of a giving Santa is, perhaps, the best expression of Jesus’ giving love in our world today. And the more you learn about Jesus, the more you see that the real holiday of love isn’t Christmas Day or even Valentine’s Day. No, the real holiday that centers on giving and love is Easter. At Easter, God’s love was completely fulfilled for us. Without Christmas, there would be no Easter, and without Easter Christmas is just another birthday. Besides, the Easter Bunny is no Santa.
For further reading: Ephesians 4:7.
Lord Jesus, as we celebrate Your birthday, help me to better give as You give: selflessly, with a loving heart, and unconditionally, so that I may know an abundance of You.