Volume. XXXii, No. 26
Sunday, 24 December 2017

From the Pastor’s Heart: Christmas Meditation

Today is Christmas Eve, and we are going to have Christmas service tomorrow morning.  I personally think that John 3:16 is the most fitting verse on Christmas, apart from direct prophecies of the birth of Christ.  It is because John 3:16 truly reflects the meaning and significance of the birth of Jesus Christ: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  Christ came to this world, and God gave Him to and for the world.  The birth of Christ is also an act of giving on the part of the Father.  It leads us to consider the significance of giving.  We raised a fund for our missionaries a few weeks ago.  It is our privilege to be able to give, and besides, to give is more blessed than to receive.  We are going to use our privilege of giving one more time tomorrow, during the Christmas service, for the ministry of Voice of the Martyrs.  I’d like to consider a few lessons about Christian giving.

First, it is an honour for us to be able to give. (1) To experience giving is the same as to receive and demonstrate the grace of God.  2 Corinthians 8:1-2 says, “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.”  Paul tells the Corinthians that according to the grace of God, the Macedonian believers have given abundantly and liberally to support the apostles’ ministry and the needy brethren in Jerusalem.  Grace is not physical and cannot be seen.  However, there is a way to know if we have the grace of God in us.  As for the Macedonians, it was their giving.  (2) To give is neither a small matter nor a casual work.  The Macedonians did their very best to give.  They were willing to do so.   8:3, “For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves.”  We cannot do our very best casually or thoughtlessly.  (3) To give to the needy and suffering brethren is not different from giving unto the Lord.  We give to the Lord with a purpose in heart that our gifts will be used for fellow brethren.  God receives our gifts for His name’s sake.  8:4-5, “Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.”  It implies that (a) the Macedonians were not arrogant because they gave, for they believed that they gave to the Lord.  It means that we givers, do not take any credit for giving.  We simply act as channels of blessings for fellow believers; (b) the benefits were given to other people.  In such a way, God uses the faith and dedication of one group of believers to assist and help other groups of believers in need.  In principle, we give to God for the benefit of our brethren.  By this way of giving, we are not arrogant because we give to God, and the receiving brethren give thanks to God without feeling  humiliated because gifts are from the Lord, not from men. 

Second, it is a sign of gratitude that we give.  We give because we are thankful.  To those who used to think of themselves as agents of their own giving, my talk about thankfulness seems strange.  Why do we have to be thankful, while we give our possessions to others?  If the receivers are taught to be thankful because they receive gifts, this instruction seems to be correct, but why givers?  If we give to missionaries or Voice of the Martyrs, they should give thanks to God and us!  Why should we be told to have gratitude as givers?  (1) 2 Corinthians 9:11-13, “Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; 13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men.”  (a) Generous giving produces thanksgiving to God through Paul and his co-labourers.  (b) Generous giving also meets the needs of God’s people and produces their abundant thanksgiving to God.  Thus, when we give, God receives thanksgiving.  By the way, we givers are not the ones to receive thanksgiving, but God.  It makes sense only when we give!  (2) Philippians 1:3, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”  Paul gives thanks to God for his remembrance of Philippian believers.  They had financially supported his missionary efforts and he also recognized it in Philippians 4:15, “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.”  Interestingly, Paul thanked God by thanking the Philippian believers, only indirectly.  In this way, he acknowledged that the giver was God and they were the channels.

Third, it is a display of the right spirit that we give properly.  What I mean is this.  In the treatise On Benefits, Seneca wrote, “In the case of the benefit, this is a binding rule for the two who are concerned – the one should straightaway forget that it was given, the other should never forget that it was received.”  Though what he said sounds right at first, it is not practical to ordinary men and women.  The forgetfulness of the giver will produce ingratitude from the receivers, and the remembrance and gratitude of the receivers will feed the arrogance of the givers.  Paul offers us a spiritual solution to such contradictions, which could hold to both.  Paul teaches that givers are the instruments of God’s giving.  It’s God who gives through human givers.  They can forget their own giving, which was, in fact, a work of God.  It’s from God that recipients receive.  Recipients can remember the gift and give thanks to God.  In this way, the vice of the giver’s pride is banished, but the virtue of the recipient’s gratitude retained.  Givers are not superior to recipients on account of giving, and recipients are not diminished on account of receiving.  One receives to pass on and the other receives to enjoy.  It is an art of spiritual giving.

There are dangers in giving.  We often are frustrated and discouraged while giving even sacrificially.  The greatest frustration comes when we feel that recipients do not show a proper attitude.  In a way, their ingratitude wounds our pride.  “We have done so much for them, but they do not even bring themselves to say, ‘thank you.’”  As a result, we hesitate to give any further.  We have a definite reason why we need to consider this matter seriously.  God gave His Son to the world, and how much thanks has He received from the world?  Or, how much thanks has He received from His children?  While we are grumbling over the ingratitude of the recipients of our gifts, we do not see that we do not give thanks to the Lord enough.  When we are givers, we should understand the reality that our gifts could be received ungratefully.  I am not encouraging ingratitude.  From the beginning, gratitude does not belong to us when we give.  If recipients are not grateful, they are not grateful to us but to God. 

We have given and will give continually for various reasons.  We will give again today and tomorrow for the church and Voice of the Martyrs in particular.  Let us remember that we are recipients of God’s gifts.  As we have received, let us give.  After all, God gave His Son for us, while we were yet sinners.  I wish you a most blessed Christmas!


Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



  • Wishing all worshippers a Blessed Christmas!
  • Undesignated offerings at Christmas Worship Service will be sent to Voice of Martyrs.
  • Thank you to all those who have responded by contributing to the Christmas Fellowship Lunch.
  • First phase of kitchen renovations completed: 
  • Church Directory is being updated. Forms available at foyer. Please fill & submit completed forms.
  • Visitation to Alwyndor Aged Care, Hove on January 7th at 2:45pm. 
  • Flower roster for 2018 is now filled.
  • Watchnight Service: please prepare testimonies to share. 
  • Kitchen Duty helpers - This week: Team B. Next week: Team C.


  • Healing: 
  • Journey mercies:  For all who are travelling.
  • Injured pedestrians in Flinders St rampage on Thursday.
  • Cambodia Missions in January.
  • God’s provision: for missionaries.

Praise & Thanksgiving

  • Journey mercies: For who have travelled and arrived safely to their destination




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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041