Giving from the Heart

By Linda M. Cunning

It’s not hard to think about gift-giving during the holiday season. The messages are everywhere, enticing you with deals and discounts, meant to show you all the items that you and your loved ones simply must have! But, is that the real heart of giving?

I remember when I received the “giving” bug. I was 11 years old. I had saved up for almost the entire year so I could go Christmas shopping for the first time. It was hard work to save when I could have easily spent the money at the candy store or bought that music album I wanted so much! My mom called me a spender, since, even as a little kid, I burned through money like it was kindling.

But this year was going to be different. I had a goal to tell each of my family members, “I love you” by buying a gift. That goal stuck with me all year long. I do have to say, my sister almost didn’t get a gift – several times! But, as frustrating as siblings can be with each other, I was still excited to see what I could find to purchase. In our family, we did not share our feelings much. We had a pretty crazy life. My heart was set on an outward expression of an inward desire to love.

My mom dropped me off at The Andersons, a general store that had all sorts of goodies. Obviously, a different time than now. Who hears of a child being dropped off alone to shop?! But, that is what I did for a whole hour. Meticulously, I scanned and eyed, I touched and examined small and large items as if I was buying something for Jesus himself. Each gift was carefully picked so that the receiver would know that I thought of each person carefully and intentionally.

On Christmas Eve, I presented each person with their gift. My tummy jumped in excitement to see them open their unique gifts. It was such a special night because my sacrifice became their joy. Benevolence toward another soul transformed me! All because my heart wanted to express love.

Isn’t that what Christ did for us? The Father loved us so much He sent Jesus. Jesus loves us so much he endured the cross and all the pain that goes with it. How awesome and humbling to think of such sacrificial love. How do I reciprocate? Can I be His gift to someone to express His continual love?

How do you express God’s love through you? How do you convey to someone you care deeply? In this season of thankfulness and giving, the real gifts are found in God’s expression of love through you. Expressions such as sending a meal to someone who has no time to make one. Expressions like giving a special empowerment book to an up-and-coming leader. Expressions like surprising a neighbor with shoveling the winter snow. Do you love to play a board game with someone who needs a cheerful moment? Can you sit and chat for a few moments? Can you write an encouraging note? Can you give with a cheerful heart?

Let’s encourage each other to let our heart’s cry be to share the love and joy of Christ in a unique way this season. In it, may you find a most profound gift from God to you – how to give freely so you can live life abundantly.