While different world religions celebrate their own holidays in various ways, there is one common ideal that can be found in them all: We should give back to others.
A large number of Americans, despite their religious beliefs, celebrate Christmas as a day of giving presents to the ones you love.
However, this is not what Christmas is intended to celebrate in the Christian religion, which was the norm our society was founded on and has – for the majority – maintained.
Christmas is the day when Christians come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
They are told all the presents and gifts they receive mean nothing compared to the gift God gave them in Jesus.
The book of Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Rather than looking forward to receiving presents, Christians are taught to give the gifts they have been given to others.
And for those who are not Christian, the Bible offers a general view on giving that applies to anyone of any religion.
Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
The verse speaks on an ideal all understand: treat other people the way you want to be treated. If you give to others they are more likely to give to you when you are in need.
Other mainstream religions also place a high emphasis on giving to others.
One of the five pillars of Islam, Zakaat, focuses on Muslims giving back portions of their income to charity.
Buddhists cherish the universal virtue of dana, the practice of constant generosity.
Even in a society whose mainstream media revolves around selling sex and violence, giving has found its way into popular culture.
In recent years, movies such as “Pay It Forward,” “Patch Adams” and “The Pursuit of Happyness” highlight unselfish acts and living an honest life.
So as you sit down this Christmas around your brightly lit tree, take time to look at the presents in front of you.
Would those extra sets of new gadgets and gizmos look better sitting on top of the pile of excess stuff you already have, or in the hands of someone whose life would be positively changed by it?
E-mail John Weidner at [email protected]