December 21, 2011

Holiday Presents

The holidays are approaching. In view of this fact, it will be well to consider how much money is expended yearly in making presents to those who have no need of them. The habits of custom are so strong that to withhold gifts from our friends on these occasions would seem to us almost a neglect of them. But let us remember that our kind heavenly Benefactor has claims upon us far superior to those of any earthly friend. Shall we not, during the coming holidays, present our offerings to God? Even the children may participate in this work. Clothing and other useful articles may be given to the worthy poor, and thus a work may be done for the Master.
Why Christmas
Let us remember that Christmas is celebrated in commemoration of the birth of the world’s Redeemer. . . .
God would be glorified by His children should they enjoy a plain, simple diet, and use the means entrusted to them in bringing to His treasury offerings, small and great, to be used in sending the light of truth to souls that are in the darkness of error. The hearts of the widow and fatherless may be made to rejoice because of gifts which will add to their comfort and satisfy their hunger.
2011 1536 page22Christmas Stewardship
Let all who profess to believe the present truth calculate how much they spend yearly, and especially upon the recurrence of the annual holidays, for the gratification of selfish and unholy desires, how much in the indulgence of appetite, and how much to compete with others in unchristian display. Sum up the means thus spent all needlessly, and then estimate how much might be saved as consecrated gifts to God’s cause without injury to soul or body. Mites and more liberal gifts may be brought in, according to the ability of the giver, to aid in lifting debts from churches which have been dedicated to God. Then there are missionaries to be sent into new fields, and others to be supported in their respective fields of labor. These missionaries have to practice the strictest economy, even denying themselves the very things you enjoy daily, and which you consider the necessaries of life.
If, after prayerful consideration of this matter, you are not moved to prompt and zealous action, we shall know that you . . . have lost sight of the sacrifice Jesus has made for you that you might be blessed with the gift of eternal life. Said Christ, “If any man will be My disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”* Self-denial is a mark of Christianity. To offer to God gifts that have cost us something, a sacrifice that we shall ask Him to use to advance His cause in the earth, will be pleasing to Him. . . .
It would be well pleasing to God if extra ornaments, twice so explicitly forbidden in the Word of God, were laid off. Now is a favorable opportunity to present these as offerings to God. They may be sold for something, and the money thus received may be used to advance the precious cause of truth. Let the wearing of useless trimmings and adornments be discarded. . . . Our dress may be of good quality, made up with plainness and simplicity, for durability rather than for display. Our appetites must also be brought into subjection, and not gratified to our injury. The question should come home to every heart, “How much owest thou unto my Lord?”
* See Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23.
This article by Ellen G. white was adapted from The Review and Herald, November 21, 1878. This article was published December 22, 2011.