Tis The Season Of Giving
by Joy Martin, Set Me Free Ministries Co-founder
Well, December is upon us, which means Christmas is right around the corner. If you read our blog regularly, you already know that I'm in denial about it being so close to the end of the year. If you'd like to be fully filled in on my level of denial, please refer back to The Thanksgiving Blog and then read on. Needless to say, there's no reason to rehash my state of holiday denial.
While Thanksgiving makes me pause to think about how blessed I am and to take the time to really be thankful in all things, Christmas makes me think about all of those who are without–especially during the holiday season. This morning I heard a statistic that Americans spend more than $450 billion each year on Christmas. Take a minute to let that number sink in–more than $450 billion–and that's just American spending for one holiday. I'm not going to lie. When I heard that, I was a bit taken aback.
This may feel like a bit of a leap, but please stick with me for a minute here. I am currently halfway through a Bible study on the book of Ruth. During the second week of our study, something struck me in a very profound way, and I'd like to share it with you in light of the Christmas season–the season of giving. If you're not familiar with the story of Ruth, I'd highly recommend sitting down when you have time to read it. But for now, what you need to know is that Ruth was a Moabite woman who left the land of her people to follow her mother-in-law Naomi back to Judah after the death of Naomi's husband and two sons.
Ruth and Naomi found themselves starting over upon their return to Judah. In order to provide food for their table, Ruth ventured out to the fields to gather grain that had been left behind by the workers. This seems routine enough. However, what struck me is that the reason Ruth was able to do this.
The following scriptures are all from the Old Testament, and they are all God speaking to the Israelites. Read on and see if the same thing strikes you that struck me.
Leviticus 19:9-10: "'When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God.'"
Deuteronomy 24:19-22: “'When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this thing.'"
God, in all His wisdom, actually set forth a plan to provide for those in need. He commanded landowners to purposely leave behind grain and produce so that the poor, the orphans, and the widows could come back and gather what was needed to survive. Because of this, Ruth was able to gather food to provide for her and her mother-in-law. What a blessing!
Of course, things don't work that way in today's society–not even close. But what if it did? What if we provided a way for the poor, the orphans, and the widows to go out and gather what they needed to survive? How different would the world be? After all, that's how God intended things to work.
My prayer this December is that I take care not to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. Maybe instead of adding to that $450 billion, I can find ways to teach my children about caring for those who are less fortunate and providing for those in need. I want to give of myself in every way, shape, and form instead of focusing on whatever it is I think I need. I want to celebrate the season by honoring God and His ways. And I pray the same for you.