Friday, February 12, 2010

Why give gifts?

From time to time, including this weekend, Crosswind gives gifts to over 250 families in our 'adopted' neighborhoods. This time it'll be a box of practical supplies, specifically:

- A four pack of toilet paper
- Three bars of soap
- A bottle of shampoo
- A tube of toothpaste
- Two rolls of paper towels
- A box of clothes washing soap
- A bottle of dish washing soap
- A bottle of house cleaning supplies
- AND a box of chocolates

Why bother with this gift some may ask? Does it really do any good? Wouldn't it be better to do something else? We are very sensitive to how our gifts may impact our friends.
1. We don't want to be condescending with our gifts. The last thing we want to do is embarrass someone who is working hard to make it by bringing a gift that may feel to them like we're looking down our noses on them.
2. We always want our gifts to be truly helpful, to build up the whole person in their situation, not just meet a temporary need that will be back next month.

So why this gift? and why now?
1. After Christmas, family budgets are exhausted. It's a rough time for us all. Also, during the cold there are above normal utility bills. So people who live on fixed incomes are strapped. And the items listed above are the items that are usually cut first. Food stamps will not buy any of the above items so people just do without. Many of our friends have told us how, in the hard months, they use their phone books instead of toilet paper and just wash with warm water, no soap. So the first reason is that we love them and want to help them through a hard time.
2. The second reason may be a bit of a surprise until you read Luke 10. In this story Jesus is teaching his followers how to prepare a city for His arrival. In verse five he says, "whatever house you enter first say, "Peace to this house." Jesus called for his disciples to enter into a custom of the day of hospitable blessing. In many of the cultures of the world even today these customs remain. Whenever you enter a home you bring a blessing of a practical gift to return the blessing of their hospitality. God told his followers to enter homes with blessings of peace. This welcome gift, if received, was the beginning of a relationship. The relationship would deepen (v.7), needs would be met (v.9) and the gospel would be presented (v.11). In this way the hearts would be prepared for the arrival of Jesus who draws people to Himself. So the second reason is to make new friends by giving hospitable gifts which may open hearts for relationship, giving us the opportunity to serve and the blessing to present the gospel.

For about $15 bucks a family we can do something practical (help a friend in tough times) and something spiritual (prepare the way for Jesus). Can't beat that.

Bobby C

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