Advent Conspiracy 3: Give More
Passage: 2 Kings 5:1–5:16
We are on week 3 of the Advent Conspiracy. This week it is Give More. Ironic because Pastor Matt just taught last week about “Spend less”.
Last week in 2ndHour we shared all sorts of clever ideas of how to spend less.
To begin talking about giving more I’m going to tell you a story spanning 3 generations.
- My parents
- This is giving more.
- It is having an identity of generosity.
I grew up in a family of generosity. That meant few presents and lots of practical presents. John did not. He grew up with the more money spent on you was showing you love. For our first Christmas together John gave me an emerald necklace, emerald bracelet, an emerald watch and a new TV. That TV was not for me though! I had never before and have never since had such a Christmas. Thankfully John very quickly learned about this lesson of “Giving More” and how it has very little to do with spending.
My nieces and nephews have all grown up with me living away from them. A few years ago we stopped giving them gifts. We asked if they were okay with that. Each of them responded that they would rather us save our money to come and visit them. That is giving more.
Are you seeing here what giving more looks like?
Have you seen those Virginia Lottery commercials how they are selling you to avoid the “gifts of disappointment” and give lottery tickets? What? This is not giving more.
There is this random story in the book of 2 Kings 5 about a slave girl and the gift she gave.
The two books of Kings are about the history of Israel. This is a story about one of their enemy commanders. Who also had taken into slavery a young girl.
Let’s think about that slave girl for a moment. Because while this a Bible story with a miracle ending, there is still a girl here held captive. We call that human trafficking these days.
You will hear a lot about human trafficking over this month. This has become an issue many many care about. Because so much of our clothing manufacturing is made with young and underpaid workers there are this thing maybe some of your friends are doing this month called Dressember. They are wearing a dress a day to raise attention and money to end slavery. Pay attention to this stuff. Let it break your heart a little bit. May this affect your Give More. This is all a part of joining a conspiracy.
Our story is found in 2 Kings 5:1-16.
Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”
7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”
8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”
16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.
This miracle all happened because a slave girl gave a gift to her master. She told him about this prophet who could heal him.
And God did. This begs all sorts of questions of why him and not others. Especially someone on the enemy side. Someone who still owned the girl. But that’s another 10 sermons.
The gift wasn’t monetary. The gift wasn’t extravagant. It was words. It was given. It was the best gift Naaman ever received.
The slave girl gives a gift that leads to Naaman's healing. How could our gifts to others bring about healing in some way?It might not be for everyone. But is there a relationship that needs to be healed in this season that a small gift could help to heal? Could the gift of time be healing?
The wisemen famously gave gifts. Extravagant gifts. The shepherds came as they were. They were first on the scene. These outsiders. They gave extravagantly that night too.
Since the shepherds were locals, though on the outside of town, do you think any of them saw Jesus grown up? Saw him teaching? Or healing? Do you think they watched the life of Jesus from their hillside spot? Do you think they were ever in the crowds? Do you think they believed Jesus was the Messiah? Let’s talk about that 2ndHour.
May your Christmas be full of such gifts. Gifts that when you open them you know for sure that you are loved. And respected.Even if that gift is extravagant like a whole new baseball outfit for the Minnesota Twins.
Let me guess that your first twinge thought is how much work it is going to be to find such meaningful gifts. Yes. It is going to take thought. It is going to take prayer. Thank God there is Pinterest.
This is better time spent than going from big box store to big box store and dealing with all of the parking hassles. The time will balance out.
Another twinge may be the pressure you feel to have gifts under the tree or in hand. This one you will need to wisely navigate depending on your situation.
My family uses the website Giftster to list gifts we need. I bought my dad two wire cutters that I have no idea why he needs two or why that type. But I know he will use them. I am hoping for the new book on the New Testament by N. T. Wright. We are boringly practical because we have always valued our time together.
Create a wishlist for you. Maybe on Giftster. On this wishlist put down acts of service you want, defined time together you want, ideas for connection.
For parents with children I have “borrowed” this idea in my research I pass on to you: Create a 4 gift rule for everyone in your family: want, need, wear, and read.
Take your money you would have spent on gifts and donate it to Dressember in that person’s name? Or some other mission? Facebook has thankfully made this idea a lot easier. When my nieces and nephews turned 16 I bought a goat in their name from World Vision. I chose that age to give them a world perspective on what they could do with their money in the name of Jesus.
What if your participation in this conspiracy was to simply not buy anything from China?
This Advent Conspiracy is about approaching Christmas differently. Not so rushed. Not so exhausting. And finding those special and memorable moments. Somehow we’ve traded the best story in the world for what’s on sale. Giving more creates those special and memorable moments.