“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had” – Acts 4:32 (NIV).
Three words at the top of a brightly colored advertising insert in my daily newspaper captured my attention. “Give better gifts.”
The insert was only one of 25 stuffed inside to lure customers into shopping Black Friday sales. Retrieving the heavier-than-usual newspaper off my driveway on Thanksgiving Day reminded me that Christmas isn’t far off and I’d better get busy shopping. However, I abhor crowds so I tossed the advertisements in the trash.
I’m not opposed to saving money when shopping. However, I have come to detest the commercialism now associated with a sacred Christian holiday. Recent TV commercials and a story in the business section of the newspaper several days before Thanksgiving made me want to cheer. Many businesses are refusing to open on Thanksgiving so that their employees can spend the day of gratitude with their families.
Gifts of our time and our presence are better than any store-bought gift.
One company has gone one step further by announcing for the second year in a row that they will be closed on Black Friday. In fact, according to the article, they are not offering any Black Friday deals online or otherwise. REI, a national outdoor retail co-op, is dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. Passionate about the outdoors, the company is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.
As someone who grew up in the 50s and 60s when spending time outdoors was the norm, I applaud this company’s philosophy. We have become consumers of waste. We have more at our disposal, yet we don’t appreciate what we have. That’s why our landfills, garage sales and second-hand stores are filled with castoffs.
Recently, I’ve seen advertisements for the latest “hot” toys for the holidays. Most involve indoor activities and don’t promote creativity or outdoor play. Eventually, most of these items lead to boredom and end up forgotten in a pile of other discards.
We can give better gifts. Gifts of our time and our presence are better than any store-bought gift. Even more importantly is sharing the gift of Jesus with others.
When Jesus tasked His disciples with sharing the Good News, they “were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.”
In a world fraught with greed and selfishness, each Christ-follower should examine his giving in light of the Christmas promise. Corrie Ten Boom, a Christian who was imprisoned for helping Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II, once said, “Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.”
There is no better gift.