December 18, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NRSV)
And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.
In Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is transformed from a selfish miser to a generous giver. One of the ways he keeps Christmas well is by sharing his ample resources with those in need. Similarly, we will keep Christmas well by living generously, not just at Christmastime, but throughout the year. We give in response to God’s most generous gift to us, the gift of Jesus.
Today’s devotion is part of the series Keeping Christmas Well.
In the opening stave (chapter) of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is the classic miser. Not a spark of generosity warmed the heart of this selfish, greedy man. Thus, on Christmas Eve, when Scrooge received a visit from two “portly gentlemen” seeking a charitable contribution for the poor, he was not pleased. Surely, there were enough prisons and workhouses for the needy, reasoned Scrooge. And when one of the gentlemen suggested that many of the poor might die, Scrooge responded, “If they would rather die, . . . they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
But, beginning with the visit from Scrooge’s former partner, Jacob Marley, the miser’s heart began to soften. By the end of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge became a man of exceeding and joyful generosity. Nothing reveals his change of heart more than his interaction with the two portly gentlemen on Christmas morning. Seeing them in the streets, he grabbed their hands and wished them Merry Christmas. Then, he whispered into the ear of one of the gentlemen what he intended to contribute to their mission for the poor.
“Lord bless me!” cried the gentleman, as if his breath were taken away. “My dear Mr. Scrooge, are you serious?”
“If you please,” said Scrooge. “Not a farthing less. A great many back-payments are included in it, I assure you.”
In our day, as in the imagination of Charles Dickens, Christmas is a time for generosity. Some of us exercise generous gift-giving to family and friends. Others make year-end charitable gifts. Still, others are moved to drop spare change into the Salvation Army red kettles. For Christians, generosity is surely one excellent way to celebrate the birth of Christ. We give, not simply because of holiday emotion or seasonal tradition, however, but because God has given so richly to us in Jesus Christ. As 2 Corinthians 9:8 makes clear, we are generous because God has so generously blessed us “with every blessing in abundance.” We pass on to others that which God has lavished upon us. We heed for ourselves the instructions Jesus once gave to his first disciples, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8, NIV).
Of course, our generous response to God’s generosity is not limited to the Christmas season. We are to live each day as recipients of God’s grace through Christ. Thus, we have the opportunity and responsibility to give each day what God has lavished upon us. We keep Christmas well by living generously throughout the year.
Can you think of times when you have received exceptional generosity? How did it feel?
Can you think of times when you have been particularly generous? How did that feel?
How does your relationship with the Lord help you to be generous?
Can you think of ways you might pass on to others some of the gifts God has given to you? Is there something you might do today?
Perhaps you have already engaged in year-end charitable giving. Is so, that’s great. But, if not, let me encourage you to ask the Lord if you should make a special gift to some worthy organization. Then, act on what God lays upon your heart.
Gracious God, thank you for your matchless generosity. Thank you most of all for the gift of Jesus Christ, for the life we have in him.
As you have given so much to us, help us to be generous with others. May we keep Christmas well throughout the year through sharing generously some of what you have shared with us. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: You Can’t Out-Give God (2 Corinthians 9)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.