December is connected with gift-giving—sometimes for the wrong reasons. All of us have felt the pressure to "buy" something for family and/or friends. Our private conversations sometimes bemoan the obligations we feel to "get something" for so-and-so. Churches, mission organizations, humanitarian endeavors, endless charities—all try in one way or another to tweak the subtle pressure of "the season" in their respective favor.
The celebration of our Lord's physical birth into this world is certainly worthy of remembrance. But most of the world only "remembers" that the wise men from the east brought gifts to the baby Jesus—and use that event as justification for the Christmas celebration. But the reverential honor of the wise men is a far cry from the excessive and self-serving practice that now dominates the "Christian" world.
ICR would ask you to remember why and to Whom we give.
Jesus reserved His harshest criticism to "religious" practice that was either hypocritical or misdirected. In the Matthew 23 passage cited above, He pointed out that the gift itself had replaced the reason for the gift—and the motive of the giver. Perhaps it is worth reviewing some basics of discretionary giving.
The gift should be "unto the Lord" (Leviticus 23:38; Colossians 3:23). Sounds simple, but this calls for conscious dedication and a willing heart.
The gift should be for "the glory of" our Lord (I Corinthians 10:31). Again, sounds simple, but requires us to be careful what our gift may be used for in the hands of others.
The gift should do what "the Lord had commanded" (Numbers 36:2). This may be a little more complicated to insure, but our discretionary giving needs to be placed with those whose heart and ministry is clearly driven to implement and honor God's Word.
Please know that ICR will honor your gift as though it came from God's hand.