Jesus Isn’t Threatened By Your Christmas Gifts

Christmas is fast approaching and, not surprisingly, my kids are looking forward to seeing what’s under the tree. The girls, at least, are still young enough that they are waiting with bated breath to learn what treasures they’ll be receiving. I love this. I enjoy their anticipation and am excited to experience their joy as they unwrap what Aileen and I have bought for them. It promises to be a good morning.

At the same time, I think we all feel a little bit of tension between the dual purposes of Christmas—the giving of gifts and the birth of the Savior. It is this time of year when we encounter all kinds of articles about the real gift of Christmas and when we are warned about spending too much money or buying gifts that are too lavish. We need to keep Christ in Christmas and not succumb to materialism, right? We need to ensure that we don’t look forward too much to unwrapping new toys, new clothes, new books. The implicit messaging is that Christmas is a kind of either/or proposition in which we can either emphasize Jesus or emphasize gifts. But one always threatens to displace the other.

Jesus isn’t threatened by Christmas gifts. He doesn’t get better when we diminish or downplay them

I disagree with this. I don’t think there has to be any tension at all between Jesus and gifts, between a Christmas celebrating the gift of Jesus and a Christmas celebrating the gift of gifts. Both are good. And if both are good, there is no necessary competition between them. I don’t think we gain anything as Christians when we continually speak of this tension or when we load people with guilt who are excited to find out what’s under the tree.

Jesus isn’t threatened by Christmas gifts. He doesn’t get better when we diminish or downplay them, either by eschewing them altogether or by contenting ourselves with gifts that are frugal, that cost us nearly nothing and really aren’t that good. We don’t threaten the wonder of the incarnation when we give nice gifts to the ones we love and when we look forward to receiving them. We don’t need to spiritualize these gifts by assuring ourselves that Jesus is the greatest gift of all. We can just enjoy them on their own terms, we can enjoy them as one of God’s innumerable blessings to us. I’m convinced God is thrilled when we give good gifts, when we receive good gifts, when we enjoy good gifts. He’s a loving Father and what loving father doesn’t take joy in the joy of his children?

In the Challies home this Christmas, we will undoubtedly get up early, woken by an excited little girl. We’ll head downstairs and the kids will pull the trinkets out of their stockings. Then we will exchange gifts—nice gifts, even (though, of course, we shop smart and keep things within a reasonable budget). We will eat a special breakfast together. Then we will go to church and worship Jesus, celebrating the marvel of God made man. After it all we will return home to a feast. We will do it all, every bit of it, to the glory of God. We will do it all as one great, day-long event that unashamedly enjoys all of God’s gifts.

About the author

Tim Challies

Proper introductions begin with names, so let me tell you how to pronounce mine. It’s pronounced CHALL-eez and rhymes with “valleys” and “rallies.” It’s quite simple, really, but is almost always the first question I’m asked. I am a Christian, Husband and Father of three. I worship and serve as an elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto. I have written 5 books and write daily articles on my blog to encourage others.

MORE GREAT READS FROM

He Has No Claim

Studying European history can be both fascinating and frustrating. The history of the continent is filled with claims, and counterclaims as one person after another sought to prove himself the legitimate heir to one of its many kingdoms. I once found a similar concept of ‘claiming’ in the Bible and it struck me as one…

Jesus Isn’t Threatened By Your Christmas Gifts

Christmas is fast approaching and, not surprisingly, my kids are looking forward to seeing what’s under the tree. The girls, at least, are still young enough that they are waiting with bated breath to learn what treasures they’ll be receiving. I love this. I enjoy their anticipation and am excited to experience their joy as…

FAST FROM FOOD…

Fasting is, by far, the least-appreciated and least-practiced spiritual discipline. There is a curious apathy about a discipline Jesus assumed His followers would practice. After all, just as He gave instruction on prayer prefaced by the words “And when [not if] you pray…,” He gave instruction on fasting prefaced by “And when you fast…” Both…

Take This Cup

Jesus knew when and how He was going to die. Before the world was created, before He took human flesh and drew His first breath, before His hands were nailed to a piece of wood, Jesus knew when and how He would die. The Lord spent the final evening with his disciples honouring the Old…

Why Making Decisions is so Hard

Making decisions is one of the most difficult things we do. If it is that hard to choose between the chocolate chip and the rocky road, how much more do we agonise over this job or that job, this person or that person? We pray, we sweat, we toss, we turn. Why this fear? Why…

Pornolescence

It is going to take decades before we’re able to accurately tally the cost of our cultural addiction to pornography. But as Christians we know the cost of tampering with God’s clear and unambiguous design for sexuality will be high. Already we are seeing far too many fractured families, heartbroken husbands and wives. Each is…

Recent Articles

That Christian Vlogger

Justin Khoe, also known as That Christian Vlogger, isn’t afraid of controversy. On his YouTube channel, he tackles tough topics like women in ministry, homosexuality and politics. He investigates what the Bible really says about them, and debates the big issues with his viewers, and even other YouTubers. ‘I like to talk about subjects that…

The Role Patience Plays

But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing. James 1:4NKJV For something to be ‘perfect’ it has to be 100%, it has to be complete. So for patience to work you need to let it work till it’s complete—all 100% of it. You can’t decide half…

Testimony: Caleb Stephens

Mental health is an uncomfortable topic. It feels especially taboo in Christian circles. But truth is millions of Christ-loving people of all ages worldwide suffer from depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. I’ve fought depression for the last five years, worked with individuals suffering mental illness on the streets, saved people from the brink of suicide…

Faith Over Fame

Imagine the impossible! For Sam Humphrey it was starring on the big screen alongside his personal hero, Hugh Jackman. Because Sam has an unusual disability. In the musical blockbuster The Greatest Showman, Jackman plays P. T. Barnum, an entrepreneur who made his name with a circus featuring a number of unusual people. It’s a story…

Donate to vision

Over 80% of our income is from the freewill gifts of wonderful people just like you.
So thank you for helping. Your generous support is 'Connecting Faith to Life'.