Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Gift of Ol' Saint Nick

Saint Nicholas was a Christian Bishop who lived during the fourth century in Turkey.  Among many other things, Nicholas became known for giving gifts anonymously.  Legend has it that Nicholas gave to a poor man who needed money to help his daughters.  Saint Nicholas gave the money anonymously by sneaking purses filled with gold coins into the poor man’s house.  He gave one purse, three nights in a row, one for each daughter. 
After giving the second purse, the poor man realized Nicholas was the giver and confronted him.  Nicholas insisted that God had provided for the poor man.  In order to not be seen the third night, Saint Nicholas climbed on the man’s roof and dropped the third purse down the chimney.  The third daughter had just so happened to wash her stockings that night and hung them above the embers of the fireplace to dry.  The third purse of gold fell into the stocking, helping the poor man’s last daughter.

Anonymous giving is a healthy spiritual exercise for all Christians – not just Ol’ Saint Nick.  It allows the giver to serve others out of complete devotion to God.  Anonymous giving removes any temptation to give out of a desire for recognition or something in return.  It also allows the recipient to recognize God’s provision through His people. 

Jesus uses vivid imagery in promoting anonymous giving.  In Matthew 6, Jesus tells His followers, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.”  Though it is impossible for our left hand to not know what our right hand is doing, it is a helpful illustration of the importance of giving without recognition.

Faith Center is organizing an opportunity for our church family to give anonymously.  We have placed Christmas ornaments on the Christmas tree in the sanctuary.  Each ornament lists needs and wishes of families who could use help this Christmas.  You, your family, or your Growth Group, can take those ornaments, purchase gifts, return them to the church, and we will make sure they make it to the family in need.  Your left hand will be none the wiser and God will be honored because of it.

This Christmas, join the tradition of Ol’ Saint Nick.  Give out of complete devotion to Jesus.  Give so that the world knows that God is providing.  Give because the God you love gave all, two thousand years ago, in a manger in Bethlehem.  

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