This entry is part [part not set] of 7 in the series Question of the Week

As many of you are well aware, Christmas is a time of conflicting emotion. I get super excited as I think through Jesus’ incarnation and the implications of that wonderful event. I also get incredibly frustrated at the gross consumerism demonstrated by such a majority of society. So in light of the season, here is the question:

Which of these is most appropriate?

To graciously decline any gift offered to you (you certainly have plenty) or as an alternative, suggest that friends and family make a donation of what ever amount they would have spent on a gift to a charitable cause?


Accepting the generosity of others and allowing gifts to be bestowed upon you. Knowing that you do not need them, but allowing others to bless you and give you something you do not deserve?

Which is best? Have at it…

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Spencer MacCuish served on staff (summers) at Hume Lake Christian Camps from 1991-98. During that time (1995-99), he also worked in the public school system where he taught English / History and coached volleyball. While teaching, he also served in the College Ministry at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita. In 1999, he left teaching to lead the High School Ministry at the same church. He shepherded this ministry for three years before coming to Cornerstone. He has been serving at Eternity since 2003.


  1. The first one strikes me as a response from someone who’s oversaved. It reminds me of that scene from The Three Amigos, when they’re all in bed dreaming about what they’re going to do with the money and Ned says that he’s going to give it all to the poor. Kinda like sounding the trumpet while you give…

    Giving can be an expression of love, so even worthless and unneeded gifts are someone’s way of showing love. Let ’em show you love. And then sell it after the New Year and give the money to the poor 🙂

  2. Well, since the people who would be giving me gifts would be doing so because they care about me and love me, I would definitely accept them. I don’t think they would give me gifts out of obligation and consumerism…at least, I hope not. And I don’t walk around expecting gifts. But it’s definitely nice to get something from someone. It shows they care and thought of me.

    Or maybe I’m just biased because I like stuff too much.

  3. I like both answers above. And though not really an answer to the question, here’s a thought I came by recently:

    While we definitely go overboard as a whole culture on the whole “materialism” thing, in a sense at Christmas time we ought to be celebrating the material (and give gifts to reflect that celebration) — the Word becoming flesh, the eternal taking on the temporal, the spiritual being restricted by matter.

  4. I think it depends on the relationship you have with the person. In the context of believers – say, within the church or within a family – I think it’s totally okay, appropriate and perhaps even ideal to make a conscious decision to reject the way the world would have us celebrate and instead choose to use our money/time/celebrations to bless the least of these. For example – why not pool the money and throw an xmas party at a local shelter?

    With non-believers however I would want to be careful to nurture the relationship and allow love, trust and blessing to flow. Here the giving and receiving of gifts could constitute an important sign of growing intimacy that I wouldn’t want to step on by being “self-righteous.”

    Here, as with all things, discernment and a leading by the Spirit, are desperately needed.