The gospel and giving go together like Christmas and giving.
Christmas, to much of the world, means presents. Typically in our society, Christmas is about Santa Claus and stockings and presents under the tree. To be more specific, it is all about me and what I can get. Commercialization feeds this idea and even capitalizes on it because for there to be the receiving of presents, there must be the giving of presents. Even for the follower of Christ, we must admit that Christmas is still about presents. Now hopefully the Christian places a little less emphasis on stuff and a little more emphasis on giving. After all, we know that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35). Gift-giving can be motivated by love, by tradition, or by the opportunity to receive something in return. Either way, for the world and for the follower of Christ, Christmas is characterized by presents and giving.
In much the same way that Christmas is characterized by presents and giving, so is the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, the gospel is characterized by presents – you might say THE present – and giving. The very core of the gospel is the provision of Jesus: “And you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Often noted, gospel means good news, which is visually explained by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:21. In the message of the gospel, our heavenly Father takes our sin and places it on Christ; then takes Christ’s righteousness and places it on us. What a gracious gift! The gospel is characterized by presents and giving, because at its core, the gospel is about the heavenly Father giving a condemned people the gift of his Son that they might be saved from their sins and credited with a righteousness not of themselves (Romans 3:21-26).
For the follower of Christ, then, Christmas should be characterized by giving expressly because the gospel is characterized by giving. It should be a causal relationship. Considering what God has done for us in the gospel by giving his Son as the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:1-2), how can our celebration of Christmas – the holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ – not be characterized by giving?! May this Christmas be marked, perhaps more than any other in the past, by a distinctly biblical sense of presents and giving. Let us give gifts, but let us give something greater. Let us give the gospel. By giving to the International Mission Offering, we can contribute to the spread of the gospel this Christmas. Our Christmas and our giving should not find consistency with commercialization and materialism. Instead our giving should resonate and resound with the gospel, “with good news of great joy that will be for all people” (Luke 2:10). Let us share the gospel this Christmas, with our family, friends, and neighbors, and with the nations through the International Mission Offering.