As Dec. 25 approaches, the minds of the multitude will focus on what to give loved ones for Christmas. That prompts us to consider “The Joy of Giving” as our Christmas theme.
Whenever the subject of giving arises, most people automatically think of the financial connotation. But the Western Recorder addressed that topic in our September issue when the theme was “Generosity.”
Certainly there is the financial component involved with giving, but this issue will focus on much more. Hopefully you will see a clear message about giving ourselves for the cause of Christ.
In this issue, you will read about Disaster Relief workers who find joy in giving their time, talents and energy to share the gospel with people impacted by natural disasters. You’ll read about Baptist Campus Ministries that connect Kentucky Baptist families with international students. Those families give of themselves — opening their homes to host students who cannot return to their home countries for the Christmas break.
As you read this issue, are you experiencing the joy of giving not just your money, but your time, talents and energy for the cause of Christ? Perhaps the story told by John Piper in his book, Don’t Waste Your Life, helps frame the conversation.
Piper recalls a February 1998 Reader’s Digest article that told of a couple who married, lived frugally so they could retire in their 50s and move to Florida. There they spent their days cruising on their 30-foot trawler, walking the beaches and collecting seashells. People concluded, “What a good life they have.”
Now consider Laura Edwards and Ruby Eliason. Ruby was over 80, single all her life, but was determined to do one thing — make Jesus Christ known among the unreached, the poor and the sick. Laura, a widow, was a medical doctor pushing age 80, serving alongside Ruby in Cameroon, West Africa. In April 2000, they were killed when the brakes failed and their car went over a cliff, killing both of them instantly. And people said, “What a tragedy!”
Piper concludes that the reaction of people should have been reversed. The lives of Ruby and Laura were driven by one great passion — ministering in “unheralded service to the perishing poor for the glory of Jesus Christ — two decades after most of their American counterparts had retired to throw away their lives on trifles.” Their lives were not wasted. Mark 8:35 says, “… whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Phil. 1:21-22 says, “For me to live is Christ … If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.”
The giving of ourselves for the cause of Christ should be the desire of every believer — not just pastors or church leaders. God desires our lives to count for Him in the secular callings of life. What joy there is in using God-given talents for the advancement of the gospel.
In giving yourself, you can share the sentiment of the Apostle Paul in 2 Tim. 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”
The song “Thank You (For Giving to the Lord)” sums it up well…
I dreamed I went to heaven, you were there with me.
We walked upon the streets of gold beside the Crystal Sea.
We heard angels singing, then someone called your name.
You turned and saw this young man, and he was smiling as he came.
He said, Friend you may not know me now, and then he said, but wait.
You used to teach my Sunday School, when I was only eight.
And every week you would say a prayer before the class would start.
And one day when you said that prayer, I asked Jesus in my heart.
Then another man stood before you, and said remember the time.
A missionary came to your church and his pictures made you cry.
You didn’t have much money, but you gave it anyway.
Jesus took the gift you gave, and that’s why I’m here today.
One by one they came, far as the eyes could see.
Each life somehow touched by your generosity.
Little things that you had done, sacriﬁces made.
Unnoticed on the earth, In heaven now proclaimed.
And I know that up in heaven, you’re not supposed to cry.
But I am almost sure, there were tears in your eyes.
As Jesus took your hand and you stood before the Lord.
He said, “My child look around you, for great is your reward.”
Thank you for giving to the Lord, I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord, I am so glad you gave.
Songwriter: Raymond H. Boltz
Thank You lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.,
Universal Music Publishing Group
Chip Hutcheson is interim managing editor of the Western Recorder, the monthly magazine of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. You can email him at email@example.com.