With December finally here and Christmas now mere weeks away, I want to talk about some the trappings surrounding our celebration of Nativity. Perhaps the most obvious is the "giving" aspect. Yes, we give Christmas presents to one another, but this is also the time of the year we see the highest levels of charitable giving. My cynical side is sure part of that is for tax purposes, but most of it comes in "the spirit of Christmas."
I can think of few better ways to worship than to give to others. As Zechariah says, "This is what the LORD Almighty said: administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other" (Zech. 7:9-10). God commands us to show compassion, to care for the widow, the orphan, the poor, the immigrant, and the refugee. In this season of mercy, let us do exactly that. Only then will our worship be pleasing to God.
It's important, however, to make good decisions with our giving. Directly helping our neighbors is always a safe bet. Many choose to send donations to organizations, and I encourage you to do a little research before you give. Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org) is my personal go-to website to scope out charity organizations. It lists what percentage of your donations go directly to helping others and what goes for administrative costs, the salaries of top executives, and a general rating for the organization based on finances, transparency, and other factors.
Give wisely, but do give. Worship in this season of mercy by showing love to those around you through giving.