God loves a cheerful giver…

Irrespective of anything, across the world and even in countries indifferent to the Christian faith, people love Christmas.  Why?  It is universally a time of giving, where we save up to buy our beloved ones gifts which we think will please them. And we who are Christians celebrate Christ’s birth two thousand years ago, that greatest of all miracles, God come to earth in human form, the greatest gift of all time and eternity, Emmanuel, God with us. We are the recipients of incomparable treasure. 
Jesus said that:  “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Mt. 13:44)

No details are given in this story except for the man’s emotional state.  He has discovered treasure buried in a field.  How did he find it? Was he employed by the owner of the field? We do not know.  We only know three things.  He covered the treasure up; he was delirious with joy.  He was so excited that he sold everything he possessed in order to buy the field.

Here is a picture of reckless sacrifice, of wild abandonment of all a man possesses.  Yet it is clearly not so much a picture of renunciation as it is of re-evaluation.  Up to this point in his life the man has doubtless valued his possessions highly.  Like all of us he would have clung to them and only parted with them under exceptional circumstances.  He might have lent to a neighbour in distress or sold something to help a close friend or relative.  But by and large his life has consisted in the abundance of the things he possessed.

It is only when he discovers buried treasure that his perspective changes.  Suddenly his possessions look cheap and paltry. A joy is rising in him and an excitement that makes him sweat and tremble. There may have been momentary regret about a cherished piece of furniture or a family heirloom.  But it is only momentary. The choice he faces lies between his worthless bits and pieces and the field with buried treasure. There is nothing noble about his sacrifice. There would, on the other hand, be something incredibly stupid about not making it.  Anyone but a fool would do exactly as the man did.

God gave his beautiful Son, his incomparable treasure, to us. If we could grasp what glories he has for us, wouldn’t we realize how silly we are to cling to the ephemeral – money, property, cars, comforts, prestige, a good job?

“What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a poor man, I would give a lamb
If I were a rich man, I would do my part.
What can I give him?
Give him my heart.”

Olave Snelling


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