This is a great problem we have in our society, which is magnified in this time of year. My wife has already told me what she wants for Christmas. She gave me a list of about 3 or 4 things and said I could choose. She will be happy with any of them. My only problem, is that I don’t want to get her one of those things. I don’t like those things as gifts. I like other things, that when she opens them up, I will not only smile because she is happy, but because I like the gift too. We’ve all done that (whether we want to admit it or not) and if we weren’t so selfish, then perhaps we’d do a better job of “giving of” ourselves instead of “giving to” ourselves.
From the beginning, mankind has possessed this same selfish attitude in relation to the gifts given to God. While God does not neeeeeeed our gifts (Micah 6:6-8), He has commanded that we give unto Him offerings. It is a symbol of our admiration, devotion, respect, and thanksgiving for all that He has so freely given us. However, in the beginning, Cain gave to himself instead of giving of himself when it came to his sacrifice unto God. Cain was pleased with his sacrifice. Cain had labored for the sacrifice, and he was giving God something that Cain himself loved. (Gen 4:1-15) The problem is, God didn’t want it. And there in lies the problem, when we give God what He doesn’t want, instead of giving Him what we know He wants. Our selfishness not only abounds in pride in such cases, but our offering becomes a symbol of disrespect unto God.
For example, I know a fellow who early on in his marriage, gave his wife a drill as a gift. Now this is the most generous, thoughtful, giving man I have ever known, but in this case, he got it wrong. He loved the drill, but when she broke down into tears I’m sure he realized on some level, that in that gift he was giving to himself instead of giving of himself. In that case, she was hurt and upset by the gift. It was not what she wanted, and in a sense, he disrespected her in presenting her with that gift. Again, the most giving man I’ve ever known. A man who has been abundantly faithful and loving his entire marriage, but early on, he got it horribly wrong.
Brethren, we get it horribly wrong when we give God an offering and/or a gift other than what He has asked for, commanded, and authorized. We should give thanks to God; that He has not left us wandering in the darkness of ignorance in regard to what worship He desires. He has laid it out for us in the N.T. (Jn 4:23; Ax 2:42; Ro 12; II Cor 9:7; I Thess 5:17; Col 3:16; Lk 22:19; I Tim 4:13; etc.), and when we go beyond that or when we substitute that or take away or add to it, then it is disrespectful to God. It is a sign of selfishness, not love, when we offer God what makes us happy, excited, entertained rather than what brings Him joy. We might as well be giving Him drills, for that’s all this selfish worship is before Him.
There will be millions, maybe billions, this holiday season so thrilled with the gifts (dances, nativity scenes, Christmas parades, parties) they are giving to God. Many things will be done in “His Name” (for Him or allegedly by His authority). But while they distract themselves with these gifts they give to themselves, where will they find the heart, to look in God’s word, and give Him the only offering He cares about this season and every other… their obedience? (Ecc 12:13; Mt 7:21; I Jn 5:3)
Disclaimer: The author in no way promotes the giving of any “Christmas gifts” to God, but rather titled the article as to express the attitudes of “the world”. The author recognizes Xmas only as a man-made secular holiday.