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Day 5, Thursday, Dec 7

Acts 20:35b, “He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”  (NASB)

The term used by many of my Christian friends is “commercialization of Christmas,” but as a money manager, I am plagued by my programmed managerial thinking that despises waste, a general disregard for finances, gluttony, and selfishness.  I wrestle with a particular persona that identifies with “Scrooge” from the beloved story, A Christmas Carol.  Of course, I realize that ‘It is more blessed to give . . .” (Acts 20:35).  When the Apostle Paul quoted Jesus concerning giving in this passage, he spoke these words as a final phrase of farewell to his dear friends at Ephesus.  The power of these final words probably resonated as hearers considered the context of ministering to others. The concept that I must help others in giving reveals a whole new perspective about gift giving.

My epiphany helps me realize the great opportunity for personal growth.  My attitude struggles with one who boasts of finding a perfect gift for everyone, overspending, unnecessary debt, and selfish pride.  I sometimes felt guilty because I did not give a more expensive gift to a family member. Self-examination reveals a lot! Paul’s advice in Acts and Jesus’s quote urge believers to help those who are in need, especially those who need “guarding” (vs. 28). I now believe that a thoughtful gift can assist those in need by encouraging them. Occasionally, a thoughtful gift will require a great sacrifice of effort or, perhaps, money.

The most important thing is that believers redirect any accolades for gift giving back to Jesus who gave the best gift “which He purchased with His own blood” (vs. 28).  I suppose if I could rewrite Charles Dickens work to fit my own thinking, I would want guilt from the past, present, and future covered by the crucial atonement of Jesus’s blood instead of last minute gifts.  That is truly what makes giving more “blessed.”

Dr. Skip Hessel, Chief Development Officer