Our interest in gifts seems to be more focused during the Advent and Christmas season. We often spend considerable time, financial resources, and mental energy on gifts. In our community of faith, we often spend time, financial resources, and mental energy trying to preserve the “true meaning” of the season: celebrating the greatest of all gifts, Christ Jesus, God’s gift of salvation. We are encouraged during this season to show our love through abundant generosity.
But generosity can take many forms. Perhaps the best way to celebrate Advent is to demonstrate our love through the practice of “spiritual generosity.” Luke 6:33-35 helps us define spiritual generosity: “ If you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you?” The scripture further explains that doing good, being generous, with an expectation of reciprocity is no more loving than the practices of sinners.. To be truly spiritual with our gifts, we should be offering them to our brothers and sisters in Christ without any expectation of rewards or repayment.
A good example of spiritual generosity is the traditional Angel Tree, which invites people of faith to take a name from the tree and anonymously provide gifts for a child or family identified on the Angel Card. Several years ago, one of our United Methodist pastors introduced a variation of the Angel Tree that I think takes spiritual generosity to the next level. The names on the Angel Tree were the children of incarcerated parents unable to provide Christmas for their families. This variation spoke volumes about the biblical concept of Luke 6:33-35. Those who participated not only provided gifts for children unable to reciprocate, they did so with the knowledge that the imprisoned parents involved would essentially be getting the credit. .
This experience and my meditation on its personal impact led me to conclude that this is what Christ was talking about in Matthew 25:39-40: “When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, what you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did to me.’ ” What a joyous Advent it will be if we follow these words to define Love!
Father, lead me in the ways of spiritual generosity toward all those I encounter who cannot or will not be able to reciprocate. Grant me the faith to acknowledge that Christ our Lord and Redeemer knows the truth of our love, and that is sufficient to sustain our soul’s desire. May spiritual generosity guide me not only during Advent but throughout my life so that my reward will be eternal fellowship with you through Christ Jesus. Amen.
Maysville Trinity UMC
Northern Kentucky District