“You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
–2 Corinthians 9:7 (NLT)

A few years ago, on the day before Thanksgiving, my parents and I had dinner at Village Inn. In the entryway, they had one of those little crane machines where you can try to pick up stuffed animals with a plastic claw. My stepfather is a bit of an expert at those machines, and he bought me a little stuffed Santa Claus that I liked very much. (At 33 I still love stuffed animals.) We had finished dinner and were just about to leave, when a mother came up to us with her little boy.

I said hello to them, and the mother told me her son had enjoyed looking at my little Santa Claus for the past few minutes. I figured he deserved some of Santa’s joy more than I did, so I gave him the stuffed doll. They both thanked me, and as we headed out the door I felt an unexpected rush of warm joy.

The holiday season is a perfect time for little stories of gift-giving like mine. Our gifts to each other are meant to represent God’s gift to us, in the form of His son Jesus Christ. They also represent Jesus’ gift to us–his final sacrifice on the cross.

Of course, the giving doesn’t end after Christmas. We’re meant to make the Christmas spirit last all throughout the year. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors just as much as we love ourselves. I’d like to encourage you to give to others whenever you can. It might surprise you how much you have to give.

I know how hard it is to let things go sometimes. In our culture, we tend to keep many things for ourselves. But I believe it pays to give away a few of your own things or a little money in order to help other people out or make them happy.

My mom told me about a children’s clinic her church was sponsoring which accepted stuffed toys, among other things. At first I didn’t want to part with too many of the animals in my collection, but then I got to go there and play Santa Claus, personally giving animals to poor kids. I really loved their squeals of excitement, and I was so happy to give away some love to others.

So, my friends, why not take the Christmas season as your personal challenge? Try to make the giving season a part of your lifestyle. It may help you to give more to others than you believe you can give. You’ll be amazed by how wonderful all that giving feels.

Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please send it to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 377 E. Chapman Ave., Suite 260, Placentia, CA 92870.

To find out more about HCMA, visit them at www.hcmachaplains.org.

If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 641-715-3900, ext. 874157.