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There is not a "Should" or a "Should not" that scripture specifically states on this matter. It is up to your own conscience and the convicting of the Holy Spirit. No custom will make you less or more of a follower of Christ. There are many topics in the Bible that do feed into this one, however. #1 Holidays Christmas was not a day appointed by God. We can celebrate days not appointed by God (such as how the jews celebrate Purim, or how we celebrate secular days like birthdays), but it should not be treated as a "Christian" holiday (as in, required for following Christ, or set up by God for the church to keep, etc). If you keep it, give gifts, etc, understand that it is you as an individual celebrating a day according to your own conscience and understanding. It is not a corporate celebration commanded for all followers of Christ. #2 Idolatry: Idolatry is not simply worshiping a stone statue instead of God. It's fundamental definition is the worship or service of any image, and it breaks down to the desire for more things (greed). Idolatry is saying "God is not enough", and filling in the gaps with false gods or stuff. Idols provoke God to great jealousy. Idolatry often goes hand and hand with sensuality. Ezek 8:1-18, Jer 10:1-5, Deut 4:15-20, Ex 20:4, Acts 17:29, Ezek 20:28, Jer 7:2 The modern Christmas celebration stemmed from many various pagan festivals (themselves iterations on a Babylonian sun-god celebration). As many non-christians know this, keeping it can be a stumbling block when witnessing. It can also make one seem 'of the world' rather than in the world but not of it. Even Tertullian (back in the second century) lamented about the christians ease of conforming to pagan practices, when the pagans would not conform to godliness. Also, if the gift-giving becomes a quest for stuff, or becomes a need, or the holiday is treated with special reverence that is due only God - then it can become idolatrous. #3 Gifts: When Christ ascended He gave gifts to his church (spiritual gifts, the holy spirit, teachers, the apostles, etc) (Eph 4:7-13) We are to use our various gifts to build up the church (Rom 12:3-8) Gifts are used as an example of how God provides (Matt 7:11). God is also the source of "every good and perfect gift" (James 1:17) We are not to give gifts/entertain/etc with the expectation of return or repayment in kind. (Luke 14:12-14) Gifts are about generousity. However, it is acceptable to give gifts to make friends (Luke 16:8-9) As such, while there is nothing against the exchange or giving of gifts, it seems that God is far more concerned with how we are using our spiritual gifts, and how generous we are with others. Also, the gifts of the Magi were to honor Christ and represent aspects of His life, ministry, and even death - they were not "birthday gifts". [Jesus, being a jew, would not have even celebrated His birthday]. It is probably best to avoid making that comparison. #4 Lying Deceit is not excused just because the intent is glorifying God/highlighting some truth/worshiping God, etc. (Rom 3:5-8) Even if one chooses to celebrate Christmas or send Christmas gifts, do NOT lie about the events of Christ's birth to make it more storylike, lie about Santa being real, etc. If the facts regarding Jesus' birth and life are mythologized, Jesus becomes just yet another sun-god to the world. Don't tell all about how Santa knows when you've been bad or good (omniscient) and can go everywhere on earth in a single night (omnipotent) while simultaneously telling them that God is the standard of good and evil and is everywhere. What happens when they find out Santa is a lie? You've just ruined your credible testimony about God being true. As such, gifts should come from you personally, not Santa (unless, perhaps, the child knows Santa is just make believe and it's all in play).
GIFTS AT CHRISTMAS; This can be better explained by considering "Gifts and Christianity. A gift is an item given to someone without the expectation of payment, and it is meant to be free with no expectation of reciprocity, but made out of love to the recipient. Therefore if Christmas is worth celebrating, it may be necessary to rejoice with the less privileged in the society, and enable them to appreciate that the Lord is good. Hebrew 6:10, For God, is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. Gift giving occasions may be; An expression of love or friendship An expression of gratitude for a gift received. An expression of piety, in the form of charity. An expression of solidarity, in the form of mutual aid and support. Therefore, gifts at Christmas,is appreciating Gods' kindness to human nature, and also encouraging the less privileged that with God all things are possible, and to always focus on the Lord no matter the circumstance. Proverb 3:3, "Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart". In Christianity, Charity is benevolent giving, and understood as "the friendship of man for God", which "unites us to God", and He holds it as "the most excellent of the Christian virtues" (which is appreciating God), and the ultimate perfection of the human spirit, because it is said to both glorify and reflect the nature of God to humanity. The practice of charity means the voluntary giving of help to those in need, as a humanitarian act. Charitable giving is the act of giving money, goods or time to the unfortunate, either directly or by means of a charitable trust or other worthy cause and Charitable giving as a religious act or duty is referred to as almsgiving or alms. Most forms of charity are concerned with providing basic necessities such as, money, food, water, clothing, healthcare and shelter, but other actions may be performed as charity, eg, visiting the imprisoned or the homebound for counsellings, ransoming captives, educating orphans, even social movements etc,. Micah 6:8 - He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?.
I give gifts because it feels good to give to others. As an example of this I make Christmas wreaths and garlands and decorate people's homes with the stuff I make because it feels good to help others out and feels good to give freely of my time and goods to others. Making a meal for someone who is less fortunate than I am, baking goodies to those who can't afford it, making ornaments for those who can't afford to buy any for their kids to enjoy at Christmas time. These are things I do freely because it comes from the heart. So as a born again Christian does this mean I am sinning when I do this because Christmas is a pagan holiday I am celebrating? I get insulted when people ask me what I charge for the ornaments I make because it is not given to people to ask for any kind of renumeration in return from them. This isn't a business I am running to make money from, it is free from the heart because I like to give. I don't know if this answer qualifies as a proper one in this topic, but I do believe Jesus said God loves a cheerful giver, so do it from the heart, if i misquoted His words I apologize but I do believe He requires us to give and give often of ourselves to others.
Giving gifts at Christmas is a great way to present the gospel to someone that is not a believer in Christ. We as Christians, have received the most precious gift ever given to man and we need to pass on that gift. We don't necessarily need to give gifts to do that but people will hear what you have to say a lot sooner if you do. I know Christmas has become very commercialized and therefore some people are calling it a pagan holiday, that's why some believe it's wrong to celebrate Christmas, including a family member. I must also say that it's easy to get caught up in the worldly celebration of Christmas and forget why we celebrate Christmas. But one thing I know for sure is that Jesus came to this earth as a baby and therefore He has a birthday. Be it on Dec. 25th or not, it is one time of year that most people in this world will hear about Christ's birth, and what better way to present the gospel to someone then by giving a gift and telling them why you are doing it?
The bible says that we love because God first loved us so much that he gave [gift] his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-11). As Christians, if we truly understand and appreciate this "gift" of eternal life, we will want to express our thanks to God by cheerfully showing that kind of unconditional and sacrificial love to other people. Giving gifts is an expression of love for the people we give them to, whether family members, friends or the poor and needy in our community. Gift giving by Christians shows the world the abounding generosity of God. This is an integral part of our Christian witness to the world.
Personally my wife and I stopped giving gifts to each other and all adults in our family years ago. The grandchildren will no longer receive gifts at age 18. Why? Because we want to focus more on the true meaning of Christmas and get away from the vicious cycle of materialism at Christmas time. We spend Christmas day focusing on the word of God and prayer. This also allows us a great relief from debt, anxiety and the pressure to please others with material possessions. We focus on giving all year long and giving to Christian organizations that help the poor or persons in need. This also frees up finances for cards, flowers and the giving of other resources to others in their time of great need. We also use funds to supports a widow in a nursing home since all our parents have passed on to the other side of eternity. Debt is bondage. Interest is usury. Reasonable interest rates do not exist in today's world because of compounding interests. Unless you can find simple interest rates, which are rare. Selah! Maranatha! Jaybird
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