category: Advent

Advent Reflection: Day 13

Friday, December 10

Amos 8:4–12; 2 Corinthians 9:1–15

The Magi had no idea they were birthing a financial dynamo that would someday propel the economy of America in the far west. Nonetheless, with those three gifts, the mysterious visitors from the East initiated “the season of giving.” In our family, not unlike others, we go all out, buying good things to gift to one another on Christmas morning. Though we try to do so with measure, it never seems to end up being a modest effort. The stacked boxes burgeon from underneath our Christmas tree, an extravagant display, though certainly intended to show love for one another.

The prophet Amos prods us to remember the poor and needy because God surely remembers them. Those who struggle for basic necessities are never overlooked by God. In fact, God always sees and hears their cries. Likewise, God sees the greed and exploitation of those who harm the needy. Thus says the Lord, “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds” (v. 7b). What about those less fortunate as we buy and gift, participating in this great American consumer tradition? Does our generosity benefit them?

Paul was convinced that generosity is an essential part of our Christian character and witness. To help alleviate the poverty of the Jewish Christian community in first-century Jerusalem, Paul rallied churches throughout the Mediterranean world to make an offering to the “saints” back in the Jewish homeland. Certainly Paul was concerned about the wellbeing of struggling brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul’s greater concern, however, was how the sowing of these seeds would bear fruit. “For the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God” (v. 12, NRSV). The word translated as “ministry” may also be rendered as “service.” The Greek word is leitourgia, from which we get our word liturgy. Thus, to minister to those in need is not only supplying a physical need to fellow human beings, but is also an act of service to God. Indeed, in giving to others, we worship God. But even more, such generosity gives witness to God’s grace at work in the world, producing thanksgiving to God. Our tangible gifts bring glory to God, honoring the greatest gift of all: the Christ child whom God gave for the world’s redemption.

As the familiar counter-culture motto proclaims, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Likewise, Jesus is the reason for “the season of giving.” The Magi were not seeking to instigate a new gift giving tradition. They were merely seekers who sought God’s gift. Upon seeing this great gift, Jesus, they too gave in response. Indeed, they fell to their knees and worshipped Him. May the offering of our gifts, especially to those most in need, be our act of worship this Advent Season and Christmas!

Scott Hagaman
Pastor of First Baptist Church Marion, NC

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