As we approach the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, a thought pops into my mind today about having something to be thankful for and also about having something to offer. You see many of us at this time of year get into this mindset and begin really taking stock of our lives at least for the past year. I donít know why this time of year does this for us but itís good none the less for us to do every once in a while.
I am specifically intrigued about this idea of an offering, I suppose since I have been out shopping and heard / seen all the advertising about Christmas. However, the commercialization of the holidays over the years has really transformed the whole idea of giving into getting or even more blatantly about purchasing for onesí self rather than about giving to someone else. I think this is quite sad as both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays have always stood as a message of offering and as something more reverent and special than a simple shopping extravaganza. After all, the word holiday is derived from the combination of two words: holy + day but are we keeping it such (just think about it).
Thanksgiving has been about offering thanks; thanks for our loved ones, our family, our friends, our country, our homes, our communities, our leaders and especially for our God. But, Thanksgiving has been transformed by modern materialism into a day of gluttony rather than one focused on offering. Our pastor started a sermon series this past week and called the holiday Thanks-living instead, which I love because our offering of thanks should be more than a single day in a year. I also appreciate the reminder that this is truly what Thanksgiving is all about; living in a state of thanks.
Christmas too has always been about the offering that God made to the world of His only begotten son for our redemption and about how that precious gift to mankind should spark the same generosity in us as we offer gifts to each other as a reminder of our love. However, retailers have managed to flip the switch on giving to getting and as a result, many have forgotten the true meaning of offering. There is a ray of hope, however, that I find as I listen to Christmas music and especially the one regarding the little drummer boy who offers to the Christ child his simple talent of beating a drum. That is what I hope to accomplish today Ė to simply beat my drum of awareness and help us get back to the idea of offering.
The word offering means to present a contribution, a sacrifice of something desirable or useful for acceptance or rejection by the one to whom the offering is made. Whatís interesting is that the Bible is full of the concept of offering. In fact, the Old Testament centers around the very description of what was to be offered, how often it was to be offered and in what manner it was to be offered and by whom it was to be offered. It talks about offerings mostly in terms of sacrifice and includes oil, wine, spices, jewels, money, livestock and even linens. In other words, it is made up of the very fabric of our lives, the things we value, the things we use to live by, the things we wrap ourselves in. It is meant to be a picture of our giving from our hearts, minds, souls, and personalities to God for Him to use however He sees fit. This picture was then demonstrated in the New Testament when God wrapped Himself in flesh and came to offer His earthly life as a sacrifice for our selfishness and pride. Finally, every offering referred to in scripture was always for the attention of God. In other words, it was God who would accept or reject our offerings. On the other hand, the benefit or betterment was always for the person presenting the offering because they were either blessed, forgiven, reconciled or prospered in some fashion.
Sometimes we get it, we understand and we are willing to sacrifice our wants and desires for the good of others but sometimes, unfortunately more often than not lately we donít. So the question is what makes us forget? I believe that it might be the speed of life. We get so involved with work, hobbies, and other responsibilities we may forget how fleeting time is. Since we donít see time even as a precious offering we can give to others we let it slip away so quickly. Therefore, we conclude one holiday season to simply turn around and feel like another is upon us.
I also believe that since we are not required to take physical offerings (lambs & goats for example) to our places of worship anymore (outside of our money), we also forget that we have other things to offer that may not be tangible. God is wanting us to be living sacrifices or offerings for Him. ďI beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.Ē Romans 12:1 (KJV) This simply means that as we live each day we should subject our will, our ways, our words and our thoughts to the will of God to accomplish His desire and not only our own.
Lastly, I believe that perhaps we donít make this offering to God because we might think we donít have much if anything at all to offer to Him. This is where the lesson of the little drummer boy should resound in our hearts and make us realize that we all have something, some talent or ability to offer. Even if it is a simple smile and good attitude that we can present to some frazzled holiday shopper, it is better than nothing at all. (Remember even that offered smile is for the attention of God since man is made in His image, when you smile at someone you have the attention of God and the betterment is for ourselves since we feel good whether the other person does or doesnít.) However, even these simple offerings must come from a sincere and understanding heart otherwise they are worthless. God even addressed in scripture that only going through the motions of offerings was sickening to Him ďAnd if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? Saith the LORD of hosts.Ē Malachi 1:8 (KJV)
I would encourage you today as the holidays approach steadily upon us that you would offer some time to think deeply about these things and that you would break out your best thanks and present it to God. Then go out and from a genuine heart offer a true sacrifice of time to a fellow human being to show them the love of God. Thank you for reading this! I am honestly appreciative of your time!