Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:38—NKJV)

With the sudden arrival of the holidays comes the hurry and haste of shopping before each deadline and each big day. Always hovering somewhere in the back of the minds of 21st century Americans is the pressure of being ready for Christmas and having the perfect gifts for each loved one. Despite our good intentions, time seems to grow wings and fly away leaving us short of ideas and overextended on our credit.

Having raised children, I have learned that what I thought was the greatest gift was not always their perception. You have heard the stories of the children who would rather play with the box than with the gift that came inside? Funny thing, that! When each of us thinks back over our lives, we will readily admit that the gifts with the most meaning were not always the most monetarily expensive.

This season is the time that I find myself thinking back over three decades of ministry and remembering the gracious gifts my family received from people God has granted me the favor of shepherding. One gift in particular is one of my wife and my favorites. It was given to us many years ago. It probably did not cost much by this world’s standards, but it has lasted. And, yes, it plugs in. The dear lady gave it to us when our family was small and she was a widow. It makes its appearance in our kitchen multiple times throughout the year. Esther could not have possibly dreamed that it would still be of happy usefulness for us. But she gave us a gift of a slow cooker that has provided time and again for family and for guests around her pastor’s table. I am thankful for her kindness over and over again.

Does the Bible provide any money rules that will assist you in picking the perfect gift without breaking the bank? Does it give guidelines for self-control? I believe it does. Here are several simple principles:

  • Make a gift plan and stick with it or your money will fly away. (Pr. 23:5, “Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle to heaven.”)
  • Remember the purpose of giving: to mirror the giving of God. (Ep. 2:7, “That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”; Ep. 1:7; Ph. 4:19)
  • Overabundance of “stuff” will leave your gifting empty of meaning and will backfire. Rarity is sweeter while “common” goes uncherished. (Pr. 30:7–9, “…Give me neither poverty nor riches…lest I be full and deny You, and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the Name of my God.”)
  • Not all gifts are physical, nor monetarily expensive. (Pr. 11:24–25, “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty.”)
  • With all your gifting, do not forget to impart wisdom, the lasting gift. (Pr. 3:13–14, “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understand; for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold.”; Pr. 8:10–11)
  • As you choose gifts for others think of the legacy you give along with it. (Pr. 13:22, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.”)
  • Do not try to buy happiness with a gift; it must come from something else. (Pr. 15:6, “In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but in the revenue of the wicked is trouble.”)
  • Do not try to buy today’s joy with tomorrow’s debt (January brings the credit card statements that embitter Christmas memories). (Pr. 22:7, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”)
  • Make your time the greatest gift you give. (Ep. 5:16–17, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”)
  • The appearance of wealth is not a virtue. (Pr. 16:8, “Better is a little with righteousness, than vast revenues without justice.”)
  • Experiences together are always worth more than stuff. (Mt. 6:19–21, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth….”)
  • Find a way to remember those less fortunate than you. (Pr. 14:31, “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.”; Pr. 19:17)
  • Spending on others is way better than spending on yourself. (Lk. 6:31, “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”)

Be a wise gift giver this season, for your Lord does that for you every day. Trust and obey.