Friday, December 24, 2010

The Blessing of Giving

We are nearing the end of our Christmas movie series, I cant believe that it is almost Christmas! How time flies when you are having fun!

Today I want to share some laughs, and some lessons, from Christmas With The Kranks.

This is another one of those movies that I find hysterical, but that some people find just plain annoying. But for Christmas lovin' girls like myself, who watch every holiday movie ever made over and over during the entire of month of December - I love it!

And believe it or not, amidst all its craziness, it actually does leave us with something important to think about.

If you have not seen this movie, let me give you a super-brief recap:

The Kranks had always made a huge deal about Christmas, but since their only daughter Blair had joined the Peace Corps and was not coming home for the holidays, Luther (Tim Allen, the Dad) talked his wife Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) into skipping Christmas, and going on a cruise instead.

Although the neighbors made life miserable for the Kranks because they refused to allow such scrooge-life behavior on their street, the real story begins when Blair calls to let them know that she was coming home for Christmas after all.

So with twelve hours notice, they are flung into a frenzy of decorating and planning, to make their house holiday-ready and plan a big party, all before Blair arrives.

Most of the movie is just plain slapstick comedy, however at the end of the movie, we see Luther portray the real spirit of Christmas, when he sacrifices the cruise he so badly wanted to go on, in order to put his family first, and to do something extraordinarily special for someone else.

In this movie clip below, we see that Blair has returned home, and although Luther was glad to see her, he still desperately wanted to go on the cruise.

Then out of frustration and exasperation, Nora expresses to Luther that she had hoped that by seeing everyone make sacrifices for them, that he would finally learn to put others before himself.

Those were strong words, with strong meaning, and apparently they struck a chord with Luther.

As he looked across the snowy street and saw his neighbor and his wife (who was battling cancer) through their front window. They were sitting alone at their dining room table, trying to enjoy a quiet peaceful evening, all the while being unsure what the future would hold.

In that moment, Luthers heart changes. He suddenly was overcome with compassion for his neighbors, and if it had been real life, I believe it would have been God who touched Luthers spirit, and melted his heart.

Because, only the Holy Spirit can help us look past our own selfishness and personal desires, and see the deepest needs of someone else.

Only the Holy Spirit can prick our hearts in such a way that we see people through a different lens, suddenly finding ourselves longing to make a sacrifice on their behalf.

Only the Holy Spirit can serve as our conscious, causing us to make good choices.

Only the Holy Spirit can cause us to feel compelled to bless someone else, even if it requires sacrificing something that is important to us.

Although Luther and his older gentleman neighbor never really got along, his heart went out to them and what they were going through. He knew that the wife, Bev, might not live to see next Christmas, and he wanted to bless them with a dream vacation that they could have never afforded, and would have never planned on their own.

This is what Christmas is all about - giving from the heart.

Yes, Christmas is about gifts. But not just store-bought gives, love-bought gifts.

God gave from the heart when He sent His Son to be born in a manger, and then hung on a cross. He is the ultimate gift giver, and began the Christmas gift giving tradition.

So I believe He calls us to consider how we can give of ourselves too - not only from our pocket book, but from deep in our hearts, and to give gifts that glorify Him.

Just like Luther, who gave up something that he had paid a lot of money for, spent six weeks planning for, and was anxiously and desperately longing to enjoy himself, God calls us to give sacrificial gifts to others when the opportunity presents itself.

The Bible teaches us that we are not to give only out of our excess, because that is not sacrificial giving. If the giving of our time, finances, belongings, etc., does not cost us something, then it is giving, which is great, but not truly sacrificial giving.

I am not saying that we should not give unless it requires great sacrifice, but only that we should keep in mind that it moves the heart of Jesus for us to give of ourselves, sacrificially. This kind of giving strengthens our faith, increases us spiritually, and helps others to see God at work through us.

This is the time of year that most people are giving to others in all types of ways through store bought gifts, home made gifts, acts of kindness, baked goods, special visits, etc. These are more traditional gifts, and in some situations, very sacrificial as well. And we all love giving and receiving gifts!

But I believe the moral of this movie, is to remind us that God longs for us to keep the spirit of giving alive all year long, because it pleases Him, and because it blesses our hearts.

He calls us to put others first, whether it is a family member or a grumpy neighbor, because of His love within us, and the blessings we receive will be well worth the sacrifice.

Lets pray about seeking Gods will for our lives in the coming year, and keeping our spiritual eyes and ears open for opportunities to carry out acts of sweet sacrificial giving to others.

The world can be a better place, one gift at a time.

Deuteronomy 15:10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.

Deuteronomy 16:17 Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you.

Proverbs 3:27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.

Proverbs 22:9 The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.

(Email subscribers must visit my blog to view this scene of sacrificial giving, at

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