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Should we give gifts at Christmas?

Giving and receiving gifts any time of year can be a great way to show others how much you care for, love, and/or appreciate them. The Bible has many examples of giving gifts, all the way back to the Garden of Eden, when God gave Adam and Eve clothing to cover their nakedness and, in all honesty, to say, "Yes, you messed up, but I love you anyway." (That is a serious paraphrase but see Genesis 3.) The greatest gift God gave all of mankind is the gift of salvation through His Son (Isaiah 9:6). After Jesus was born, the Magi (wise men) came to see him, bringing Him their worship and treasures (Matthew 2:10-11), and this is the event that many people use to justify gift-giving at Christmas.

In 2 Corinthians 8:7-8, the apostle Paul talks about giving to others as a part of practicing grace and love: "Just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others." Paul also talks about giving financial gifts to believers in need, focusing on how those gifts should be voluntary acts of love—not viewed as some kind of required chore (2 Corinthians 8:1-15). We should never see the giving and receiving gifts as objects for selfish gain, but rather giving and receiving as love.

Of course, at Christmastime, we can all start to feel a little stressed about the pressure surrounding gifts. They can cost a lot of money, require effort, and often there are all kinds of dumb relational politics involved in who to get gifts for and who might be offended if they don’t get one. Gift-giving at Christmas can certainly be a source of unnecessary worry and anxiety. But here's the thing: it doesn't have to be!

If we focus on giving gifts as a voluntary expression of love and grace toward others, then we have done the best we can to honor our loved one. Giving gifts at Christmas (or any time!) honors God as we practice generosity, grace, and love. Try not to stress too much about how people will react. Some people will never be happy with anything or they'll be critical, but you can't control how other people respond or react. We don't need the approval of an ungrateful person, especially when we have acted in a loving, godly way (1 Corinthians 13:4-6; Galatians 6:9).

Colossians 3:1-4 reminds us, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights..." —James 1:17

TL;DR

Giving and receiving gifts any time of year can be a great way to show others how much you care for, love, and/or appreciate them. The Bible has many examples of giving gifts, the biggest one being when God gave us salvation through His Son (Isaiah 9:6). The Magi came to see Jesus, bringing Him treasures (Matthew 2:10-11), and this event is what many source as the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas. Giving gifts should be a voluntary expression of love and grace toward others. Try not to stress too much about how people will react; we cannot control how others respond. But we don't need the approval of an ungrateful person, especially when we have acted in a loving, godly way (1 Corinthians 13:4-6; Galatians 6:9).

By: Catiana Nak Kheiyn

Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org. She loves audiobooks, feeding the people she cares about, and using Christmas lights to illuminate a room. When Catiana is not writing, cooking, or drawing, she enjoys spending time with her two kids, five socially-awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.

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