The Santa Claus at the mall was very surprised when a young lady about twenty years old walked up and sat on his lap.
Santa doesn't usually take requests from adults, but she smiled very nicely at him, so he said, "OK, you can ask for something but it has to be for someone other than yourself. What do you want for Christmas?"
"Something for my mother," said the young lady.
"Something for your mother? Well, that's very thoughtful of you," smiled Santa. "What do you want me to bring her? "
Without blinking she replied, "A son-in-law!"
We often say that Christmas is a time when the focus is on giving, but let's be honest -- for many (perhaps most) people, the greater excitement of Christmas is in what we receive, not in what we give. How many people do you know who are saying, "I can't wait to give a gift!"? Now, how many people do you know who are saying, "I can't wait to see what I get!"? As parents, we know the joy of watching our children open their gifts, but are we instilling in our children the joy of giving, or is Christmas simply a time when they are excited to receive what they wanted (or perhaps they're upset because they didn't get what they wanted)?
While trying not to sound too cynical, how many of the gifts we give every Christmas are given because we feel obligated to give, or because we are hoping to receive something back? Is it possible for those of us who are Christ-followers to give simply for the joy of giving?
Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, "If you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?" (Luke 5:46-47). To take it one step further, if we give only to those from whom we expect to receive something back, how are we different from anyone else in the world? What should distinguish God's people is a desire to give with no thought no receiving anything back.
In Luke 14:12-14, Jesus said, "When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
May I encourage you, not only this season, but year-round, to seek to find ways to give to those who can't give back, to learn to give simply for the joy of giving.