真正值得送禮的聖誕節

By:Robert J. Tamasy

在世界上很多地方,聖誕節等同是送禮的同義詞。每個文化的送禮方式都不同,但是都代表著慷慨和善意。在聖誕節,我們和家人朋友互相交換禮物。企業為員工舉辦聖誕派對時,通常都會附上禮物代表感謝員工一年來的辛勞努力。有些企業會發放年終獎金,不過這要根據這家公司過去一年的績效而定。

所以這也是一個試驗「施比受更有福」的最佳時機。這一句話來自聖經的使徒行傳20章35節。我們喜歡收到禮物,但我們知道如何享受給予,並且認為這也是一種祝福嗎?

許多人在零售以及商業的場合用「佳節愉快」(Happy Holidays!)代替「聖誕快樂」(Merry Christmas),很多社區也不鼓勵宗教性質的裝飾。但是沒有耶穌,就沒有聖誕節這是無庸置疑的。

當我們觀察每年這個季節的慶典以及準備在聖誕節早上看到小朋友們驚喜的臉龐時,我們要感恩記得這個節日不只是商店的年終大拍賣而已。「上帝愛世人,甚至將他的獨生子賜給 他們,叫一切信他的,不致滅亡,反得永生。」(約翰福音3章16節)

我們的心裡需要反覆思想,聖經中對於「給予」是怎麼說的?

真實的給予是鼓勵。我們經常認為給予是給實際上的東西,但常常最有價值的禮物是友善的即時的話語。「良言如同蜂房,使心覺甘甜,使骨得醫治。」(箴言16章24節)

真實的給予是真心的。沒有比收到一些人勉強送的禮更糟糕的。「少種的少收,多種的多收,這話是真的。各人要隨本心所酌定的,不要作難,不要勉強,因為捐得樂意的人是上帝所喜愛的。(哥林多後書9章6-7節)

真實的給予是有回報的。我們應該抱著給出去不求回報的心,但是我們慷慨的給予常會以其他方式回到我們身上。「你們要給人,就必有給你們的,並且用十足的升斗,連搖帶按,上尖下流地倒在你們懷裏;因為你們用甚麼量器量給人,也必用甚麼量器量給你們。」(路加福音6章38節)

真實的給予是犧牲。最大的給予不是從我們豐富有餘拿出一部分來,而是付上代價的給予。「人為朋友捨命,人的愛心沒有比這個大的。」(約翰福音15章13節)

真實的給予是感恩。跟隨耶穌的人了解神為他們所做的是何等大,所以將感恩是奉獻給神最大的禮物。「你們要稱謝耶和華,因他本為善; 他的慈愛永遠長存!」(詩篇118篇1節)

省思/討論題目
當你想到送禮,第一件想到的事是什麼? 在你家,大家彼此送聖誕禮物嗎?如果是,你覺得這個傳統如何呢? 你收過最值得紀念的禮物是什麼? 當你聽到這句經文「神愛世人,甚至將祂的獨生子賜給他們」,你的反應是什麼?如果你想要查考或是討論聖經中其他關於這個主題的經文,請參考: 詩篇 30篇4-12節、75篇1節、84篇11-12節;箴言3章27-28節、11章24節、18章16節、22章9節;路加福音12章42-48節。

A TRULY GIFT-WORTHY CHRISTMAS
By Robert J. Tamasy

In many parts of the world, Christmas is synonymous with gift giving. How that is practiced varies from culture to culture, but in most cases a spirit of generosity and good will prevails. We exchange gifts of some sort in our homes with family members and friends. Businesses sponsor Christmas parties for employees, often accompanied by gifts as tokens of appreciation for another year of diligent labor. Sometimes annual bonuses are presented, dependent on how prosperous the company was over the past 12 months.

So it becomes a time for testing out the adage, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” which is based on Acts 20:35 in the Bible. We all like to receive gifts, but do we know how to enjoy giving to others, recognizing it as a blessing?

There are efforts to dilute the sense of the season in retail and business settings with greetings of “Happy holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas,” and in many communities traditional religious displays are discouraged. But there is no question without the story of Jesus Christ, there would be no “Christmas.”

So as we observe the festivities of this time of year, and prepare for the surprises of Christmas morning – especially as reflected on the faces of young ones around us – it would very appropriate to remember this holiday was not a corporate invention to boost year-end sales. It commemorates the birth of Christ, of whom the Scriptures declare, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

With that in mind, consider some of the things the Bible says about giving:

True giving is encouraging. We often think of giving in terms of tangible objects, but sometimes the most valued gifts are kind, timely words. “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

True giving is wholehearted. Few things can be more disheartening than receiving gifts from someone that does it grudgingly, as if they were forced to do so. “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 Corinthians 9:6-7).

True giving is rewarded. We should not give with the motivation to receive in turn, but often our generous giving results in our being rewarded in some way. “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).

True giving is sacrificial. The greatest giving is not what we give from our abundance or excess, but what we offer when the gift involves a considerable cost or sacrifice. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

True giving is thankful. Followers of Jesus understand the magnitude of what God has done for them and given to them. So expressions of gratitude might be the best gift of all. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1).

Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A..

Reflection/Discussion Questions
When you think in terms of giving gifts, what immediately comes to your mind? Does your family practice Christmas gift giving? If so, what does this tradition look like for you? What is the most memorable gift you ever received? When you hear or read the familiar verse, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” what is your reaction?If you would like to look at or discuss other portions from the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages: Psalm 30:4-12, 75:1, 84:11-12; Proverbs 3:27-28, 11:24, 18:16, 22:9; Luke 12:42-48

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