There’s a growing movement among Christians, and those with a secular approach to Christmas as well, that calls on us to quit giving gifts and redirect the money you would have spent to supporting non-profits.
Here’s why I—and Ebenezer Scrooge—think that’s a bad idea.
First, full-and-frank disclosure: I own a company that makes and sells high-end leather bags, a whole lot of which become gifts. Plus, I like giving gifts. I like thinking about the right gift for the right person. I like buying ‘em. I like giving ‘em.
But my Christmas gift advocacy isn’t about my business or my personal likes.
It traces directly to the reason we celebrate Christmas.
We give gifts at Christmas because God gave us the greatest gift he could . . . His son.
We got this entirely free. And so we give gifts to each other to honor, celebrate and remind ourselves of His gift.
The fact that a whole lot of people—maybe most people—give for other reasons doesn’t in the least mean we shouldn’t keep on giving for the right reason.
And that’s just the beginning of why I think we should give. (And Scrooge, too. More on that later.)
God likes to give. It’s a crucial part of who He is. He’s a giver. It delights Him to give to us. It delights Him when we, similarly, give free gifts to each other. We don’t commercialize or trivialize Him by giving gifts; we honor Him.
So, does that mean we shouldn’t give to non-profits? Of course that’s not what I mean.
Not only should we give to non-profits, we should do that all year long. If you want to honor God by giving like He does, you don’t limit it to one season. But at that special season where He gave the greatest gift, we give even more. We add to our giving to those in need by giving to each other.
Believe me, I know from experience, it doesn’t have to cost a lot.
There were years in my young adulthood that I didn’t make enough to have a roof over my head year around. Yet, my nephews looked forward every Christmas to the gifts I chose for them. One Christmas, I could afford almost nothing, so I got each of them a long hank of quality rope.
Guess what? When all the presents had been unwrapped and kids ran outside to compare gifts with friends on the block . . . what were my nephews playing with? Video games? Electronic gadgets?
(The next year on that block, rope was under almost every tree.)
What I want to do for my children—the very best that I’m able—is to live in a way that gives them examples of what God is like. So, we give to help others. In fact, we started a company that competes with ours where 100 percent of the profits benefit those in need in Africa, particularly children.
And I give gifts at Christmas to friends and family. I put my best thinking into a gift that brings joy. And I give the best quality I can afford.
So, what about Scrooge? Do you remember him before his redemptive encounter with his past, present and future? Do you remember him after?
What did he do? He gave money away to those in need, indeed a breathtaking amount. Then he crashed a family Christmas dinner . . . and provided the biggest turkey he could find.
It wasn’t just “help those in need,” and it wasn’t just “give presents.”
It was share the joy of the gift you’ve been given every day . . . and even more so when we celebrate the time we got that gift.
Dickens wrote of Scrooge, “and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!”
May it be indeed.
So, this Christmas (and every Christmas, for that matter), let your inner Scrooge out. Give help. Bring joy. And honor the greatest giver of them all.
Dave Munson is founder and president of Saddleback Leather Co. Its sister company, Love 41, founded by Dave’s wife, Suzette, dedicates all profits to African relief.