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December 20, 2021

Have You Been Marked? A Christmas Consideration


“Jimmy was nine when his mom told him his little sister was sick and would die if she didn’t get a blood transfusion – and that Jimmy was one of the only people in the world who had the rare blood type needed. She asked him if he would be willing to let the doctors give his blood to his sister.


“Jimmy was very somber. He didn’t know what was involved, but he loved his sister and agreed to give his blood.


“On the appointed day, Jimmy was solemn, but brave, when the nurse put the needle into his vein and began to drain his blood. After a few minutes of watching the bag fill, he looked scared. The nurse said, ‘Don’t worry, it will be over soon.’


“The boy accepted her assurances and asked, ‘How much longer will it be before I die?’


“The nurse was shocked. ‘You’re not going to die!’ she said, and then wept when she realized Jimmy thought he had to give all his blood to save his sister.”(1)


What a powerful story. No greater love…


The Christmas season is one of the most remarkable times of the year. A time when we celebrate Christ’s birth as a human…so He could give his blood and die. Unlike Jimmy, He had to give all, laying down His life for us.


Because of this, Christmas is, indeed, a time of giving. Appropriately so. As such, it’s also a good time for each of us to take inventory, just to make sure we maintain the proper heart toward giving and receiving - it’s more blessed to give than receive. The spirit of the age can sink its claws into us at times, without us even being aware it is happening. Christmas is also a great time of year for imparting to our children the spirit of giving. If done properly, they can be marked for life with God’s giving heart and nature. Or, sadly, Christmas can also be a time when we teach them that the greatest thing in life is receiving.


Relax. This is not a post discouraging you from giving your kids gifts at Christmas. It is simply a reminder that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive.


Years ago, my life was marked by a man named Wayne Myers. He is, without a doubt, the person who embodies this truth more than any I have ever known. I’ve watched Wayne give tens of thousands of dollars away, on multiple occasions, and be almost giddy with excitement in doing so. Sometimes the gifts were not so large. I once saw him empty his wallet to a Bible school student - while on his way to the airport! This was 40 years ago when there were no cash machines to replenish his supply. He then asked his wife who was traveling with him if she had any more cash on her, because he didn’t think what he had was enough to give the student. That was Brother Wayne.


So, some of you may be thinking, a few thousand dollars here and there is not that much for a person to give; many people do that. Perhaps so. But Wayne is not a millionaire businessman or a philanthrapist. He is a missionary to Mexico who, for all the years I was blessed to have contact with him, didn’t even own a home. Wayne’s motto in life is “Live to give.”


And he has.


Wayne would almost become violent if someone else tried to pick up the check at a restaurant. The giving nature of God oozed out from every cell of his body. His generosity was so infectious that one had to budget the number of times they heard Wayne speak each year! Because when listening to him, that month’s budget was blown. Of course, Wayne was so full of faith that God would return the money many times over - and he proved it hundreds of times - that you found yourself believing it, also. What a legacy.


Ceci and I have tried to live by the truth that it is more blessed to give than receive, though nowhere near the level Wayne has walked in. And we have proven over and over the truth that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive.


Personally, though Wayne was used to fan the flames, this mindset began in me while serving in a food line in Guatemala, after the horrendous earthquake of 1976. It killed 30,000 people in 30 seconds and left 1 million homeless. Having been there when it occurred, I stayed to participate in the relief work. In the village of San Pedro, which was obliterated, I was serving in a soup line. People were holding broken jars, cups, cans - anything they could find in which to receive a small portion of soup. Most hadn’t eaten for days.


As I ladled out small portions, I was watching the soup disappear too quickly. Hoping against hope I kept scooping...and watching. The last person in line was a lady holding her three-year-old daughter; they were the only two survivors in a family of six. As she got nearer, I could see it coming: there wouldn’t be enough. Still, I hoped. The last of the soup was served just before she held out her jar. As I looked into her eyes my heart was shattered. It was like someone punched me in the gut. Through tears, I used my broken Spanish and said, “No mas, no mas.”


At that moment, I would have given everything I owned for just one bowl of soup to give them. My world was wrecked. My definition of success changed. Priorities were reordered. Bank accounts were looked at differently. And what really mattered in my life was turned topsy-turvy. I began to truly understand: it is more blessed to give than to receive.


Years later, Ceci and I were planning a ministry trip to Mexico City. We decided to take our daughters, Sarah and Hannah - ages 9 and 7. We wanted them to see how less fortunate people lived in other countries. When our gracious hosts asked us what tourist activity or place we would like them to take the kids to, Ceci surprised them. “An orphanage,” she said, “I want you to take us to an orphanage.” They found one two hours away and our two daughters rocked and held orphaned children for an afternoon. The journey was beginning for them, as well. They began learning it is more blessed to give than to receive. The experience marked them.


Consider taking some time this year to teach your children the joy of giving to those in need. Do not allow Christmas to be only about receiving. Take them to a feeding center and allow them to serve. Load up the family and take groceries to a family struggling financially. Set everyone down and discuss together what your family could do this year to help a less fortunate family enjoy Christmas. Sow a family gift to a missionary who is telling unreached people about Jesus. Adopt a child through Compassion International, One Child, or another worthy ministry. Help a family that lost everything in the recent tornadoes. There are many opportunities, just find one. Mark your children with the heart of Jesus.


Pray with me:


Father, we thank You for the incredible blessings we enjoy in America. Thank You for all You have given us through Your Son, Jesus. You taught us - and demonstrated - that it is better to give than to receive. This Christmas season, keep us reminded of this.


We pray for those who are suffering lack this Christmas. The poor, hungry, homeless - we pray that they would find their way out of poverty and loss. Give them a fresh start.


We pray for those suffering from the tornadoes. Bring them hope in this tragic time. Send them a friend, a helping hand, relief.


And most of all, we pray for those who do not know Christ as Savior. Send someone to them with the good news. Assign an intercessor to pray for them. Open their eyes, lift the veil. We ask all this in Christ’s name. Amen.


Our decree:


We decree that greed will not control us. Generosity will be our guiding principle.


Click on the link below to watch the full video.

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  1. Adapted from: https://raycenter.wp.drake.edu/2016/04/28/the-ultimate-gift/