FIRST-PERSON: This season, give gifts more precious than gold
Maybe we can call this the "Biblical Gift Guide for the Holiday Season":
1. Give from what you do have.
Remember when the beggar outside the temple gate in Jerusalem asked Peter and John for money? Although he was crippled from birth, the beggar was focused on money as the solution to his problem. This story is a picture of the superiority of the treasures we have in knowing Christ. Peter understood this perfectly well. His reply to the beggar should ring in our ears:
"Then Peter said, 'Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk'" (Acts 3:6).
And the crippled man walked! Imagine that electrifying moment.
God did not send Peter and John on a mission to give away money. He sent them on a mission to give away Jesus.
This year, you may not be in a position to give gifts that people are expecting from you; but this can be your opportunity, like Peter and John, to give from what "you do have."
We have the glorious treasure of the Gospel that gives sight to the blind and heals every broken heart. So be compassionate, yet bold, and give Jesus.
2. Give apples of gold in settings of silver.
A few years ago, a personal friend became CEO of one of the largest companies in the world. The story broke in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Fortune. His success in business was very impressive by all measures.
In a conversation with my father, I mentioned in passing how delighted I was for my friend's spectacular rise to the highest ranks in the business world. Dad's response will never leave me.
"Well, son, that is impressive, but what you are doing is more important. I would rather you do what you are doing than be CEO of the world's largest company."
I was speechless. I never expected that would be my father's response. Somehow, I had mistakenly thought being the CEO of a multi-billion dollar global company would have made my dad more proud of me than being CEO of Crown Financial Ministries.
I was wrong -- really wrong. Those words blessed my soul so much that I had to fight back the tears as he looked at me with pride and joy. I knew that he not only said it, he meant it.
Solomon said, "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver" (Proverbs 25:11).
Think of the approaching holiday season as your opportunity to give appropriate words of affirmation to those you love.
3. Give real security.
If you knew you held in your hand the one thing that could liberate a loved one from fear and insecurity, you would put it in a big box, decorate it with a bow, and watch with joy as the recipient opened this invaluable treasure.
Freedom from fear and insecurity is in short supply right now. But, regardless of how much gold you have or how high its price goes, it will never be able to deliver what is promised to those who fear God.
Listen to the promises in Psalm 112:
"Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.
"Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice.
"Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes" (Psalm 112:1-8 NIV, emphasis mine).
One year, the only gift I could give my close friends was a card with a specially selected verse that was meant to bless them. It worked.
As you generously give from the priceless gifts that you have freely received, I pray that this will be your very best year of gift giving.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries. His latest book, "The S.A.L.T. Plan, How to Prepare for an Economic Crisis of Biblical Proportions," is available now. To sign up for Chuck's free weekly e-newsletter, "Handwriting on the Wall," visit Crown.org/handwriting or call 1-800-722-1976. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).