'Tis Better to Give than Receive

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When I was younger, I would lurk around the Christmas tree, waiting for my mother to turn her back, so I could shake the brightly colored packages under its boughs. Even now as a college senior, I can't help but wake up earlier than usual to see what was stuffed in my stocking or to rip the paper off a present to reveal the book I have been patiently waiting to read.


As much as I appreciate a thoughtful Christmas gift,  that's not what this season is about. Christmas commemorates the coming of our Savior, the ultimate gift. Sure, we receive the blessings from his life on earth, but our acceptance of the gift of Christ is not what makes this holiday worth celebrating. We celebrate the remarkable circumstances surrounding the giving of Christ's life: God, himself, descended from heaven and assumed the form of man to give himself to us. Mary realized how remarkable the gift of Christ would be:

And Mary said:

’My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for
me— holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their
inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.’
— Luke 1:46-55 (NIV)

Mary knew she did not deserve what that the Lord had bestowed upon her. Good deeds or worldly possessions could not compare to the gift of Christ. We have been given the ultimate gift and for that reason, we give.


We sacrifice physical resources and time to respond to the extravagant love we have received. We know in our hearts that it is better to give than to receive, for that is the pattern of our Savior's life, and in our journey to mimic him, we will find joy. Kahlil Gibran, a Christian from Lebanon, knew this to be true, writing in The Prophet:

And to the open-handed the search for
one who shall receive is joy greater than
And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving my be yours and not your inheritors.
— Kahlil Gibran

So this Christmas season, let us be overwhelmed by the beauty of giving. Cherish the act, keeping in mind the Gift that we undeservedly received.


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