It’s All about Giving

Associate Pastor of Administration and Operations Columbus Avenue Baptist Church
This past December our office staff gathered together for our annual Christmas party just as we always do each year. However, we chose to celebrate differently and add a new touch. We celebrate Christmas as the birth of our savior Jesus. We celebrate God’s gift of giving to us. I am sure that’s where the gift giving came from, however, we have messed that all up with thoughtless gifts and spending more than our means financially. The true act of giving sacrificially has been lost over the years, watering down the actual celebration. So our staff party took on a new form! We asked each person to bring five dollars to the party. We still did the dinner and games and fun, but the real focus was on giving. We did not charge for the event nor not rent a large room nor spend a lot on food. We chose to not spend much on ourselves this year. With the money each person brought, I surprised them with giving. As a staff, we chose to sponsor a child through Compassion International for one year. We collected the money and then a few weeks later we confirmed the sponsorship to a ten year old boy in Uganda. I purposely looked for a child that had been waiting the longest and our child Nye, had been waiting for almost a year for a sponsor. The staff received all the details about our child and now we write him letters and hear about his life. What a huge blessing this has been already. God first gave so we could give!
Now we are entering into another time of giving as we look toward Holy Week or Passion Week as some refer to it. It can be a time just like the other holidays, missing the point, if we are not careful. Holy Week is full of events that remind us to celebrate Jesus giving. God gave us his son, now the son is giving himself! Growing up as a kid I only remember Easter and the family gatherings and seeing some relatives maybe. The focus was on hunting eggs and getting candy. There is nothing wrong with that but we missed the giving focus. We got instead of gave!
Holy Week starts with the Sunday before Easter Sunday marking the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The book of Luke chapter 19. 28-44 tells about the event that depicts the picture of Jesus riding into town with people laying psalm branches down in his path as a sign of royalty and respect. It was glorious time for God’s people. A Maundy Thursday service is the next event in Holy Week that depicts the time when Jesus was with the disciples at the last supper. The book of Luke 22.7-38 tell us the story. Jesus knew it was his last meal together and he had a lot to say in continuing to teach the disciples of the upcoming events. Even though they did not fully understand Jesus’s teachings, Jesus pressed forward. The next day is what we refer to as Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified and died for our sins. The book of Luke 23.26-55 tell us the story of His crucifixion and death on a cross. Why would we call this day “good” Friday? Some say that it transitioned from God’s Friday to Good Friday. Even though it was a dark day of death and pain, it reflected what God was doing for us. Remember Holy Week is all about Jesus giving. Jesus was giving his life so that we may have life. Through his death and resurrection, we have abundant life. So there was something “good” about that Friday, thus Good Friday as we know it today. The last event of Holy Week is Sunday morning, Easter Sunday as we know it today. The book of Luke 24.1-12 tells us the story. As was custom, the woman would bring spices to prepare Jesus for burial. They were shocked to see that Jesus’s body was not there and were instead confronted by two angels saying the Son of Man is not here, he has risen. Whether you are a believer or not, those are the events of Jesus giving. You can choose to believe or not, and many have chosen to not believe.
When I was a kid growing up I remember the words “prove it!” being said a lot. You know how kids try to exaggerate the truth and brag to make themselves tough. You say something hard to believe and someone says “prove it! Well I am sure that was being said as the women went back to town saying that Jesus had risen, he is not there. That surely sounded ridiculous and hard to believe. I bet you there were some saying to the women, “prove it!” Well, Jesus had already taken care of that as in the next several days, even weeks, he appeared many times. In fact, the Bible records eleven times that Jesus appeared and proved he had risen. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, the two travelers on the road to Emmaus, to Peter in Jerusalem, the ten disciples in the upper room, the eleven disciples a week later, to seven of the disciples while fishing, to more than 500 at once, to James, and to many at his ascension on the Mt of Olives.
Jesus was giving them many convening proofs that he was not in the grave. Jesus was giving them hope that what he had taught was true. Jesus was giving them peace that he was who he said he was. Jesus was giving them his life on a cross so that they could have life. All in all Jesus was giving all that for anyone that believes in him, even today. The whole story and events of Holy Week are about giving. Romans 5.8 says, “But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
As I was sharing at our staff Christmas party about giving to a child in Uganda, I shared that it started with God giving his only son, then Jesus giving his life, so that we can give him ours. It’s all about giving! Have you given your life to Christ? Have you accepted his free gift of life by trusting in Him? Are you convinced he has risen? Wherever you are reading this article, you can quietly close your eyes and give yourself to Jesus. Lord, I admit I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. Lord, I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and was buried, then raised again and is alive in Heaven at your side. Lord, I commit my life to you and trust you as my Lord and Savior. Amen.
It’s all about giving my friend; all about giving!