In the opening of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is the classic miser….not even a spark of generosity existed in the heart of this selfish man.
On Christmas Eve, Scrooge received a visit from two “portly gentlemen” seeking a charitable contribution for the poor, he was not inspired to give. Then a visit from Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s former partner, 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.”
Today Christmas is a time for generosity. Some are caught up in the gift-giving spirit of the season. Others make charitable gifts to lessen their tax burden. Still others are moved to drop spare change into the Salvation Army red kettles.
“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.” 2 Corinthians 9:8
For Christians, generosity is surely one excellent way to celebrate the birth of Christ. We give, not simply because of seasonal emotion, but because God has given so richly to us in Jesus Christ. Moreover, 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 hear as if spoken to us the instructions Jesus once gave to his first disciples, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt 10:8, NIV).
Of course, our generous response to God’s generosity is not limited to the Christmas season. Thus, we have the opportunity and responsibility to give each day what God has lavished upon us. We keep Christmas well through living generously throughout the year.