Charles Stanley - Christmas: Teaching Us to Give
Would you consider yourself a giver or a receiver? I don't expect you to answer that, heh-heh. Would you consider yourself a giver or a receiver? Put it this way, would you consider yourself a joyous giver, a happy giver? Or, would you prefer to be the receiver? Now, how many of you were receivers when you were children? We all were. We have to learn to be givers, I think. Yet, here's what I've noticed. I've noticed the happiest people I know are people who are givers. And the reason is because they're always giving of themselves. And it's just not something that they have to give, but they're giving of themselves. And when a person is giving of themselves, it's less of thinking about themselves and thinking about others.
And as followers of Jesus, the pattern is that you and I be happy, joyous givers, because that's what He was. That's what He did His entire life on the face of this earth. And when we come to this Christmas season, people think, "Well now, all this buying and selling and all this traveling and all these things are all terrible". And somebody says, "Well, I just don't believe all this is biblical". Well, I want to show you in this message, oh yes, it is. Now, that doesn't mean go take your credit card and fill it up. Doesn't mean that, but it is. So I want you to turn to Luke chapter two, if you will, and I want us just to read the first few verses and then we'll go from there.
"Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house of the family of David, In order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn".
That's not just a story. That was an event that changed your life, my life, and would be changing people's lives for all eternity. Now, here's a question. What would cause me to believe that giving at Christmas time is scriptural, is biblical? Because if you'll look at this event, for example, everything about it was giving. Let's start with Mary. Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, gave two things. First of all, she gave her body to be impregnated by the Holy Spirit and to carry the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. She gave her body. A second thing she gave that most people don't realize is that she gave her reputation, because when the angel announced to her that a child would be born conceived of the Holy Spirit, the first thing that had come to her mind besides the mystery of it all, and I'm sure there was a mystery to it to some degree, was the idea of how am I going to respond? Here I am pregnant and I've not been married.
She and Joseph were engaged, and in those days an engagement, it was like equal to marriage except it wasn't consummated till after a period of time. And so therefore, if she was found with child and they weren't fully married, that meant that she had committed adultery, and therefore the penalty was stoning to death. So what would happen is the elders of the city would find out about the fact that she was pregnant, and therefore they would arrange to have her stoned to death. So, Mary gave far more than most people realize, because as soon as the angel said that to her, everything just didn't get peaceful. All of a sudden, she had to begin to deal with telling Joseph about what was going to happen and his response, and the response of the people, the response of her parents. She gave her body. She gave her reputation.
A second person in this event that gave was Caesar Augustus. Now, he thought that he had made a decision to tax everybody, which meant that everybody had to go back to their family, original home, and sign up, register, and pay taxes. He thought that was his idea. What he didn't realize is that it was Almighty God who put that idea in his mind and his heart. Though he was a Roman emperor and what he said went, I mean, he could take your life just like that, whatever he chose. So he made this decree. What he didn't realize is that God Almighty was using him, this pagan emperor, to fulfill one of the purposes of God. Because the scripture says that the birth of Jesus was prophesied, in Micah, for example, that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem. Well, they lived in Nazareth. He was moving that wonderful couple from Nazareth down to Bethlehem where the Messiah was to be born.
So if you'll think about it, Mary gave her body. Caesar Augustus gave his decree that he thought was from him to accomplish his purpose. It accomplished his purpose, but it also accomplished the purpose of Almighty God. Now, someone else gave something. On their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem, pretty long journey, what happens when they got to Bethlehem, there was no place to stay because people were just crowded everywhere. And they went from one place to the other trying to find some place that Jesus could be born, she could give birth to this baby, and everywhere she went and they went, there was no room until finally an innkeeper said, "We don't have any room here, but I do have a barn out here or a stable," it would be in those days I guess, a stable, "and you're welcome to use that if you can".
The innkeeper didn't have but one thing to give, but he gave that. And he gave that stable where Jesus Christ was born, and we look at that and think how awesome, that God would let the second person of the Trinity, sovereign of the universe, be born in a barn and laid in a manger in those early days of His life. Then of course, something happened. The Bible says the angel of the Lord began to speak to the shepherds. And he began to talk about a child is born, a Savior, and He'll bring joy to the world. And so the angel had something to give, and that is the announcement that he gave and that whole heavenly host gave to those shepherds, that Jesus Christ was born, the Savior of the world.
And you say, "Well, you know, why wouldn't", this is the way humans think, "why wouldn't God have announced that? An angel had spoken to Caesar Augustus, maybe he would have believed". No. God had the angel speak to shepherds. So what did they do? The scripture says they immediately went and found Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus. And I love what the scripture says here because it reminds me of something that goes on today. Listen, "So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. And when they had seen this, they made known the statement which was been told them about Christ". Now, watch this. So they told them what they had seen and heard, "And all who heard it wondered at all the things which were told them by the shepherds".
So what did they give? They gave a testimony. They said, "Look, the angel spoke to us. We found Him just exactly as the angel said. This must be the Messiah". So, the shepherds gave their testimony. Then of course, after the testimony, the wise men came. And they came all the way from Persia. God chose three men to do what? Watch this carefully, not just wonder about a star they saw, but to do something about it. It was so brilliant it got their attention. They packed their bags and their stuff and they said, "We have to follow this". And so they'd made that traveling time as best they could. They came and they found the Lord Jesus Christ just where that star had led them. And they gave gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and worshipped Him. And the Bible says they went home another way because Herod was trying to kill all of the small children. So every single person around the birth of Jesus gave something, from Mary all the way to the wise men.
So when people say, "Well, all this giving at Christmas hasn't got anything to do with Christmas". Yes, it does. The very spirit of Christmas is a spirit of giving. Think about it. It's a spirit of giving. It's a wonderful time to express our love and appreciation for other people and also our love and devotion to Almighty God for giving us the greatest gift there was, and that's His Son, our Savior. Because here also God gave something. He gave Jesus, His only begotten Son, to come into this world and to die as a living sacrifice for your sins and mine. He was the sin-bearer. He was the Lamb of God. That Jesus came into this world for the purpose of dying was the greatest news the world could possibly hear. Everything around the birth of Jesus Christ, somebody's giving something. But I want you to notice something else here when it comes to Christmas time being a time to give, and that is, Jesus not only gave of Himself, listen, the scripture says, every event in His life is characterized by giving.
And think about it for a moment. When He came into this world, after He reached about thirty years of age, and He departed from being a carpenter, what happened? One of the ways He gave of Himself is He gave of Himself in teaching the truth. When did He start? He started when He was about twelve years of age in the Temple. You'll recall that He was talking to the Pharisees and the Sadducees and asking questions and answering questions when His family found Him and they wanted to reprimand Him a little bit. And He said, "I must be about My Father's business". So if He began that at that early age, just think about it, for the next years till He became thirty years of age, He was studying the Word of God. Reading the Word, studying the Word, listening to his parents teach him, listening in the synagogues, what they were teaching.
So, when the time came for Him to begin the ministry, He was fully equipped. He gave of Himself in healing the sick. And you remember Bartimaeus sitting on the highway-side out of Jericho, and he just heard that Jesus was coming and heard that Jesus had healed a lot of people. And so, the scripture says that He called out to Jesus and they told him to be quiet. So he just started hollering out loudly, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy upon me". And the Bible says Jesus stopped. And I love in the King James Version when that one little phrase, the Bible says, "And Jesus stood still". And that's been a blessing to me through the years, that Jesus would stand still on His way, would never pass that way again, because He was going to the cross. Jesus stood still for a poor blind beggar who was useless and of absolutely no value in the eyes of the world of his day. And He stood still and healed him. Jesus was always giving. And that's why as a believer, a true follower of Jesus is going to be a giver.
And so it can't be just giving at Christmas, it's giving year round. But I just want to say that giving at Christmas, there's nothing wrong with that. It is the spirit in which Christians ought to live three hundred and sixty-five days of the year. And when it comes down to it, God the Father gave His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God is, listen, God's been giving to you and me, watch this, He was giving to you before you were ever born. And so to be a true follower of Jesus, giving ought to be our lifestyle. And you see, giving to Him isn't because He needs it. It's because we need to be continually aware and recognize that He's the source of every single thing that we need. That's why the giving is so important, and to get the gospel around the world. And so Jesus taught it. He said, "Give and it shall be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, it'll be returned to you".
Now, what did that mean? Give money? Not necessarily. It meant giving anything. You give love. You give truth. You give your finances. You give companionship. In other words, giving is a part of the life of the believer. And so that's what Jesus taught. And not only that, that's what the New Testament church practiced. It says in Acts chapter four that they were selling their goods and giving to one another so that there were no needs in that early church. And then, of course, in Second Corinthian nine six, Paul reminds us if we give generously, we'll reap generously. If we give sparingly, we'll reap sparingly. It depends upon how we choose to live it out in our lives.
And so as a follower of Jesus, how can I do anything but be a giver? Think about the most valuable material thing somebody's ever given you. Think for just a second. Do you still have it? Did you outgrow it? Did you wreck it? Did you sell it? In other words, the most valuable thing, or do you still polish it? What's the most valuable thing somebody's ever given you? Compare that to the gift of eternal life. There is no comparison. And when you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, He forgave your sin, wrote your name in the Lamb's Book of Life. He says He's preparing a place in Heaven for you. But until He calls you, He's called you to live a godly life. And He's indwelt you with the Holy Spirit to make it possible for you to live a godly life. And not only live a godly life, but you're to tell it.
We sing that chorus, "Go Tell It on the Mountain". What about going and telling it next door? In other words, you work with people who need to hear it. You live with people who need to hear it. The world around us needs to hear the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you didn't give anybody anything this Christmas but to say something I want to share with you. And you just told them what Jesus Christ has done in your life. You see, the truth is somebody says, "Well, I can't give a testimony". Yes, you can. "Well, I don't have a testimony". Yes, you do. The question is when Christ is in your life and you're walking in obedience to Him, how can you keep it to yourself?
You don't have any idea the impact you can have in somebody's life. Because remember this, watch this carefully, the same Holy Spirit that indwelt Peter, James, John, Thomas, and the whole crowd is the same Holy Spirit that indwells you. And that's the same Holy Spirit God equipped them with in order to evangelize the whole world. You don't have any idea who is within you, what you can do, whose life can be changed. Let me ask you a question. Can you name anybody that you have explained the gospel to and trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior? Could you just name one person? Think about this. The greatest gift ever given has been given to you as a believer. Can you not name one other person to whom you have given the same gift? The gift of eternal life through Christ. How can we keep that to ourselves?
Everything about Jesus's birth is giving. Everything about His life's giving. Everything about that New Testament church was giving. And everything about our life ought to be the same. Do you realize how rich you are, how wealthy you are? You think about how much gospel truth that you know that most of the world has never heard the first single time? You've been to church for years and years and years. Now, a lot of it you don't recall, but in your subconscious mind, because that's the way God built it, everything you have ever heard of the truth of the gospel is still in there. One of these days, if they would invent some way that you could recall everything you've ever heard, wouldn't that be fantastic? Well, it would be if you've been living right. Wouldn't be if you weren't living right. But what I want you to see is look at the potential you have.
If this Christmas season you just decided, this Christmas season I am going to deliberately, willfully choose to explain the gospel to somebody I know who is lost. Just one person. You say, "Well, they won't listen to me". You don't know whether they will or not. One person, give that gift to one person this Christmas. They may not make a decision. You, listen, you're not responsible for how they respond. You're just responsible for telling them. And you say, "Well, how will I do that"? Ask God to make you sensitive to the people around you and that when He opens a door, you'll have the courage to step through and speak to them. You don't have to quote a lot of scripture. You just have to say to them, "I just want you to know that one day in my life Jesus Christ came into my life and changed my life and I've never been the same since".
Oh, I go through heartaches and troubles like everybody else, but there's nothing like having Him. In less than thirty seconds you can give them a testimony. Watch this, they may not say a word to you then, but they won't forget it. You know the reason I know that? Almighty God won't let them. You can't beat that for a great gift. And if you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, we're not trying to be religious or build big churches. We just want to get the gospel message to you, because it's the only message that's going to take you to Heaven, the only message that can give you the strength to bear the things in life that oftentimes come your way that you don't expect on, anticipate, and you've not planned for.
If you will ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins, not based on how good you are or that you deserve it, but based on the fact that when He went to the cross, He died for your sins, my sins, the sins of, look at this, the sins of the whole world. That's how powerful that cross was. If you're willing to ask Him to forgive you and surrender your life to Him, He will forgive your sins, write your name in the Lamb's Book of Life, prepare you a place in Heaven, and from that point on, indwell you with the Holy Spirit so that you can do for others what somebody has done for you. You will not receive a greater gift at Christmas than this, nor will you give a greater Christmas present than the gospel of Jesus Christ. I trust you'll do it.
And Father, how grateful we are for that message, transformed our lives, and the message that can transform the life of any person on the face of this earth. Thank You for all those people who work in areas of translation, translating the gospel of Jesus Christ into every single language on the face of this earth so that everyone You have created and placed here would be able to hear the truth. We love You, Father. And we want our love to be expressed the way Jesus expressed His, giving it away to other people. In Jesus's name, amen.
Well, if you've never trusted Him as your Savior, I want to encourage you to do that today. I don't know how anybody lives Christmas after Christmas without Jesus. I can tell you this. I can tell you how it is to live with Him Christmas after Christmas. I've been living with Him Christmas after Christmas for sixty-eight Christmases, and there's no life like the Christian life. And there's no giving like joyful giving, generous giving. And I would just simply say to you if you want life at its best, Jesus is it. His way is it. He has a calling on your life. You say, "Well, I never heard that". You have a calling on your life. And He is calling you to come to Him, give yourself to Him so that everything He's planned for you, you're capable of receiving.