Which ones will you choose?

Gifts That Change Lives

Dr. Al-Henk Rekers        

Did Jesus teach us to celebrate Christmas by giving gifts to our family and friends?

People and churches today do numerous things NOT commanded by Christ while NEGLECTING TO OBEY clear commandments of Christ to us.  If we are doing everything Jesus commanded and still have time and resources left over to do okay things he did not command, then perhaps some of those "extras" might be okay to do (you'd have to evaluate them Biblically to decide) — but that is not what most people and churches do.  They just conform to the prevailing culture or "Christian subculture" while ignoring many of Jesus' direct commands.

What does this prevailing habit of "Christians" and churches reveal according to Jesus?

Jesus taught,

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. ... Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.  And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” ...

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.  And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
" (John 14:15, 21, 23, 24)

Jesus also taught,

"...as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.  If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you?  For even sinners do the same.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful
." (Luke 6:31-36)

So Jesus never taught us to celebrate Christmas by giving gifts to our family and friends, or spending money on "Christmas decorations," but He did reveal His heart about how He considers how we are to go out of our way to give to people who are hungry, thirsty, a stranger outside our family, or in need of clothes, or sick, or in prison:

"Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ " (Matthew 25:37-40)

James further clarified,

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." (James 1:27)

Are you feeding hungry people? ...welcoming strangers? ...giving clothing to those in need? ...visiting the sick or those in prison? ...fostering or adopting orphans? ...helping needy widows? ...helping persecuted believers?  (Now how much money do you have left over to buy "Christmas decorations"?)  How does Jesus want us to remember Him, His birth, His commands, His death, and His resurrection?

And Jesus came and said to them,

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)


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