And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.”
In the opening stave of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is the archetypal miser. Not a spark of generosity warmed the heart of this selfish man. Thus, on Christmas Eve, when Scrooge received a visit from two “portly gentlemen” seeking a charitable contribution for the poor, he was not pleased. Surely, there were enough prisons and workhouses for the needy, reasoned Scrooge. And when one of the gentlemen suggested that many of the poor might die, Scrooge responded, “If they would rather die, . . . they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
But, beginning with the visit from Scrooge’s former partner, Jacob Marley, the miser’s heart began to soften. By the end of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge became a man of exceeding and joyful generosity. Nothing reveals his change of heart more than his interaction with the two portly gentlemen on Christmas morning. Seeing them in the streets, he grabbed their hands and wished them Merry Christmas. Then, he whispered into the ear of one of the gentlemen what he intended to contribute to their mission for the poor.
“Lord bless me!” cried the gentleman, as if his breath were taken away. “My dear Mr. Scrooge, are you serious?”
“If you please,” said Scrooge. “Not a farthing less. A great many back-payments are included in it, I assure you.”
In our day, Christmas is a time for generosity. Some get caught up in the gift-giving spirit of the season. Others make charitable gifts so as to lessen their tax burden. Still others are moved to drop spare change into the Salvation Army red kettles. For Christians, generosity is surely one excellent way to celebrate the birth of Christ. We give, not simply because of seasonal emotion, but because God has given so richly to us in Jesus Christ. Moreover, as 2 Corinthians 9:8 makes clear, we are generous because God has so generously blessed us “with every blessing in abundance.” We pass on to others that which God has lavished upon us. We hear as if spoken to us the instructions Jesus once gave to his first disciples, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt 10:8, NIV).
Of course, our generous response to God’s generosity is not limited to the Christmas season. We live each day as recipients of God’s grace through Christ. Thus, we have the opportunity and responsibility to give each day what God has lavished upon us. We keep Christmas well through living generously throughout the year.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Can you think of times when you have received exceptional generosity? How did it feel?
Can you think of times when you have been particularly generous? How did that feel?
How does your relationship with the Lord help you to be generous?
Can you think of ways you might pass on to others some of the gifts God has given to you? Is there something you might do today?
Gracious God, thank you for your matchless generosity. Thank you most of all for the gift of Jesus Christ, for the life we have in him.
As you have given so much to us, help us to be generous with others. May we keep Christmas well throughout the year through sharing generously some of what you have given to us. Amen.