CHRISTMAS PRESENTS- Introduction
Gift-giving at Christmas is a tradition steeped now in crass commercialism. Should Christians participate in the exchanging of Christmas presents?
CHRISTMAS PRESENTS- Origins
The giving of gifts at Christmas is a custom which developed in imitation of the wise men, or Magi, who gave gifts to Christ [Matt. 2:11]. It is sometimes said, notably by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, that this biblical event is irrelevant to Christmas gift-giving. For one thing, they claim, the word “Magi” should be translated “astrologers,” and clearly God would not lead people to Christ through astrology. This claim is at best a half-truth: the Magi were trained not only in astrology but also in all of the arts and sciences of their culture, so that the translation “wise men” is actually much more accurate than “astrologers.” Besides, the Bible makes it very clear that the wise men were led by God, both by the star which led them to Christ [Matt. 2:9], and by the warning which they received in a dream not to go back to Herod, since it was given to protect Christ’s life [Matt. 2:11].
CHRISTMAS PRESENTS- Misunderstandings
Jehovah’s Witnesses also point out that the wise men gave gifts to Christ, and they did not give gifts to one another. But that misses the point altogether. The now risen, glorified Jesus doesn’t need anything in the first place; but if we give to others Jesus Christ considers that as good as giving to Him [Matt. 25:31-46].
CHRISTMAS PRESENTS- The Commercialism Behind the Gift
For most people the really troublesome aspects of Christmas gift-giving is the commercialism attached to it and the pressure it often puts on people to give gifts to people because it’s expected rather than freely given out of love. And you know, all of us can identify with that. But these are abuses and therefore do not invalidate the practice itself. What you ought to do is adopt sensible, biblically-based principles to guide your giving, and stick to them. Whatever you decide to give, give cheerfully, and use Christmas gifts to remind yourself and your loved ones of Jesus Christ, God’s incomparable gift to us. On Christmas gift-giving, that’s the CRI perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.