As the year ends and we begin celebrating the holiday season, there is a cultural phrase that sticks out to me the most this time of year: “the season of giving.” This usually is in reference to the fact that this time of year is when we tend to give gifts to our friends, families, neighbors, co-workers or loved ones to show the appreciation and gratitude we have for them. As much as I love this time of year – music, food, weather (even though South Florida fall weather is just a less scorching summer with random cold fronts, it’s still beautiful!) – the thing that makes it bittersweet for me is that once we go from December to January, “the season of giving” seems to vanish in the blink of an eye. However, as I thought this, I felt the Lord remind me that the act of “giving” can be put into practice daily and can be far more significant than simply giving someone a gift. There are three ways that came to mind.
One way is by giving sacrificially to others without expecting anything in return.
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).
It is so vital we live these truths out. Those times you purchase a meal through a drive-through and you stop at a traffic light after and see someone with a sign that says “anything helps” or “need a meal” or even “aliens took all my things” you can give them what you just ordered. You can always go back and get yourself more food or eat those leftovers in the fridge you’ve been avoiding.
A second way giving can be put into practice daily is by taking the time to actively listen to others when they are in times of need. This is so important because so often we find ourselves and others experiencing difficult and trying times in life. Next time a co-worker or someone you know tries telling you something they’re going through, take a quick second to ask the Lord for strength and give them your full undivided attention. This shows that you truly are seeking their wellbeing. It is safe to say we all want someone we can trust who will listen, give us hope, comfort, and strength to be able to endure through the storms of life.
Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Jesus is calling us to trust that He hears us, that He is intently listening. He also calls us to do the very same with others. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”
James 19 also says: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak,…” I love that this phrase teaches us the importance of processing what we hear first before we formulate a response because this affirms that we are indeed listening and being listened to.
Extend grace and forgiveness
Lastly, we are called to give grace and forgiveness to everyone at any chance we get. When we are wronged, falsely accused or misunderstood, Matthew 5:43-45 says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
As difficult as it is to truly forgive when others have sinned against us, Christ lovingly reminds us He has given us the greatest gift of all by laying his life down for us to forgive us of ALL our sins; past, present and future. He gave His life first so we could give ours. To our neighbors who need friends, to our coworkers who need a shoulder to lean on, and even those family members and friends who have wronged us.
As we enjoy “the Season Of Giving,” let us not forget that Christ has sacrificially given His life for us, knowing we could never repay Him, that He actively hears us when we call upon Him, and that He forgives us and lavishes His grace upon us daily. And in return, He commands us to live and lead a life that reflects His goodness to others.
Jonas Maldonado is the worship director at Hollywood Community Church. If you’re a worship leader interested in getting involved with Village Hymns, please email [email protected] or visit our website at villagehymns.com.
Read more on the season of giving: https://www.goodnewsfl.org/the-christmas-story-what-gifts/