Hanukkah has passed, which is a festival of lights. Christmas is approaching, which has become a festival of giving. If we put lights and giving together, perhaps we have something that will make God smile.
Let us start with the concept of light. God, of course, is light and He causes His light to shine. However, He is also calling us to shine forth His light in the world. To Israel he declared:
I have called you in righteousness,
I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you,
And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the nations. Isaiah 42:6
A similar call applies to believers in Christ.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Mat 5:14
So, how does this concept of light relate to giving? David Flusser, a Jewish scholar who studied Christianity, asserts that “the God of Israel initiated a new era in the history of mankind, introducing a new concept of justice, an uncompromising moral law.” An important part of this moral law, he suggests, is the concept of giving. We can only give what we have (and what we are), so first we must have the light of God shining out from our hearts. The heart of “giving”, he then suggests from a typical Jewish perspective, is not words but actions. Repeatedly, he reminds us that Scripture exhorts us to care for the poor and the unprotected, for the orphan, the widow, and the stranger. This is the biblical heart of giving. When we give in this way, we are “the light of God shining in the world.”
I have heard numerous examples of godly giving at this time of year. Some children select toys they no longer use and give them to the poor. Some invite a needy family to their home for a special meal and opening gifts (including gifts for the needy family members). Others volunteer at this time of year. So, when we see those volunteers standing in the cold and ringing their bells for contributions, let us open our hearts to give to those less fortunate than we are. And perhaps most important of all, we should reflect on all the blessings that God has bestowed on us, so our love for Him will pour out in our desire to participate by shining forth His light in the world.
May this season of light and giving be a special one for you and your family.
Repeatedly, he reminds us that Scripture exhorts us to care for the poor and the unprotected, for the orphan, the widow, and the stranger. This is the biblical heart of giving.
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Dr. Anne Davis
Dr. Anne Davis is a professor of Biblical Studies and enjoys working with graduate students to enhance their exegetical skills for exploring the depth of Scripture.