by Ella Corey
‘Tis the season of crowded malls, of endless, exhausting shopping days, of list after list trying not to forget a single family member or friend. We give for many reasons: obligation, gratitude, an expression of love, or simply to spread Christmas cheer. On average, each shopper spends over $700 on the holidays. I easily fit into this groove this time of year. Buying Christmas gifts for people I love is one of my favorite things to do. Is this wrong? Certainly not. But because the Bible talks so much about giving, I think it’s something God wants us to not only do, but also do correctly.
An interesting study I read recently opened my eyes to a phenomenon: we were genetically created to enjoy giving back to others. Here subjects were presented with digital money, and their brain waves were tracked as they decided how to spend it. They were given multiple opportunities to give to charity and be taxed as well. Dr. David J. Linden’s study concluded “over the entire population that, just like receiving money, both taxation and charitable giving activated nearly overlapping regions of the pleasure circuit.” Giving to others is proven to bring us joy. While the Psychology Today article did not directly discuss creation, it can easily be concluded. God designed us to feel true joy when we are serving Him and others.
This explains why so many people gave gifts to Jesus. While giving to others is pleasurable, imagine how much purer our joy will be when we give to God. Think about the great lengths the Wise Men traveled just to bring Jesus gifts when he was born, or the sinful woman whom anointed Him with perfume (Luke 7:37). We are created to live lives giving back to God.
When I think of giving at Christmas, I think of buying gifts for family, but giving back to God? Obviously Jesus isn’t walking around anymore, and we can’t just invite Him into our home, or bring him frankincense and myrrh. We are called to tithe to give back to the church, but what does that mean? Pastor Rick Warren explains “The purpose of tithing is to teach us to always put God first in our lives. God doesn’t need our money. He wants what it represents: our gratitude, our priorities and our faith.” We give to Him to bring Him glory, to worship.
This is something that I need to be reminded especially during this season, but also throughout the entire year. He is the one who provides, so I am to be giving back to Him always. Whether it’s donating money to a missionary or non-profit organization, or volunteering my time at a local church, giving to God is the purpose of this season.