“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17.
“For over nineteen centuries the institution of Christmas, the popular gift-exchanging day, has been acclaimed throughout Christendom as one of God’s good and perfect gifts. And this sentiment has been glorified and perpetuated in the face of the widely-known facts that Christmas is not the birthday of Christ, that He was not, in truth, born in December at all, that the observance of the day is simply a Christianized heathen custom perpetuated in charming Christian guise, and that it is not a gift from God….
In view of these widely-known historical facts, this phase of the subject needs no further treatment beyond the Lord’s simple warning involving
Christmas Observance and Christmas Gifts.
While to a multitude of Christmas-observers, Christ means scarcely more than any ordinary man of fame, to an even greater Christmas-observing multitude of “not-at-all-Christians,” He is but a storied figure by which to conjure holiday revelry; although they meaninglessly lip His name in conventional acknowledgment of the supposed origin of the religious occasion of the season! Thus to many, like a light in the darkness, stands out the fact that Christmas is not, in reality, observed to the honor of the Saviour, but to the glorification of a heathen custom and to the gratification of the carnal heart. Consequently, “altogether-Christians” cannot therefore consistently participate in celebrating the Christmas myth. Indeed, to do so is openly to set at naught the Word of God, for “thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
“They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.” Jer. 10:2-5.
And the traditional gift-exchanging which is part and parcel of the spirit of Christmas observance, is a jealousy-breeding custom, all too often only cankering the receiver’s heart and emptying the buyer’s pocketbook. Thus while it goads one multitude to display of pride, even luring them into revelry, debauchery, and immorality, it drives another, the multitude of poor, either to envy or discouragement, or to both, also not infrequently to despair, and sometimes to insanity — even to committing murder and suicide.
The whole Christmas institution conseguently being but a species of heathen worship that is demoralizing the nations, the Lord’s servants will invariably shun the exchanging of Christmas gifts, shun the evil attendant upon the occasion’s pretentious spirit and spurious humanitarianism. Christians cannot, indeed, take part in its unholy traffic of gift-trading and reveling, and at the same time be “altogether-Christians.”
“Who would not fear Thee, O king of nations? for to Thee doth it appertain…. They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish. For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.” Jer. 10:7, 15, 21.
Exchanging Christmas gifts, however, is not the only evil-breeding custom: another no less evil, is the custom of exchanging
Though birthday gifts in honor of the newly born are in accord with the most generous and noble impulses of mankind, the practice of giving gifts to one another on birth anniversaries, is like the kindred practice of exchanging yuletide gifts, a convention which engenders pride, extravagance, hardship, dissatisfaction, jealousy, sorrow, and a host of related evils. Being obligatory, birthday gifts, just as with Christmas gifts, are in the last analysis not gifts at all, but merely formal exchanges which, in most cases, are useless, extravagant, and harmful. The follower of Christ who wholeheartedly cherishes His counsels, will eschew this baleful custom and habit, whether the occasion be Christmas, Easter, birthdays, or whatever. He will, in short, shun bestowing any but
If you wish to give a love gift, not a time gift, let it be something useful, never a luxury or a vanity, and not beyond your means; let it be prompted by an unselfish and generous spirit rather than by compulsion of pride, custom, or recompense. Let it, in fine, be a genuine love gift in honor of the receiver, not in honor of a time which not only suggests a recompense but even demands it. Christians should be givers, not traders!
Finally, the same unselfish spirit which moved Mary to break the “alabaster box,” and to pour out the precious ointment in honor of Him whose matchless blood was spilled to cleanse all should prompt both the giver and the receiver and the gift should have the same effect now as the ointment had before the burial, and as the blood had before the resurrection.
Not only ought Christians be wise and unselfish givers at the right time, but also wise and appreciative receivers. Indeed, they should rejoice in the glorious gifts of God more than in the perishable gifts of men. Such Christians are happy in giving love gifts, but their greatest joy and blessing will be in the observance of
The Commemorative Holy and Eternal Rest Gift.
The largest tangible gift ever bestowed upon mankind is the beautiful earth and the “fullness thereof,” crowned with the Eternal Day of Rest — the Rest which establishes its observer in the truth that the Lord created all things in six days and “rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Accordingly, of all the days of the week, it alone is holy. Therefore, “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it” such. “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day.” Ex.20:8-11.
By faithful Sabbath observance now, every true Christian will show his appreciation of this all-wise and loving provision for the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of mankind, and thereby his faith in his Creator, so that he may be granted the privilege of Keeping the Sabbath Gift Forever.” Tract 13 page 5-11.
“Another comes with the following question: “You preach that Christmas is not the true birthday of Christ; that it is the birthday of an imposter, a day of pagan institution, and idolatrous worship. You have told us that Christians must not take part in it, and for this reason are supposed to come out from fallen Babylon. Why then do you do the same as those who are in Babylon? You give gifts and receive gifts, you send and receive Christmas greetings as well as those who do not know the difference.” What answer shall we give to this second inquisitor that would establish his faith in what we believe?
Whether we answer the question or not, our works have declared, “Yes, that is what we preach, but that is not what we practice.” Is not this hypocrisy of the highest form? Has our answer now compelled this poor soul to accept or to reject the truth? Most likely he would reject the truth and join the ranks of infidelity now if never before. What is true of Christmas, the same is true of Easter, etc., but the current does not stop here.
The third person in line comes with the following passages: Testimonies Volume 6, pages 215, 216, “Our conferences look to the schools for educated and well-trained laborers, and they should give the schools a most hearty and intelligent support. Light has been plainly given that those who minister in our schools, teaching the word of God explaining the Scriptures, educating the students in the things of God, should be supported by the tithe money….The same principles which, if followed, will bring success and blessing to our training-schools and colleges, should govern our plans and work for the church schools.” This prophet whom you say is a prophet of God says thus and so. Why then do you not pay our school teachers by the tithe as God has commanded? Why do you desecrate the Sabbath by raising the teacher’s salary in the hour of worship? If this is a prophet of God, why have you lightly esteemed the instructions given? Do you not fear God? Now what can be said to this man? We may not say anything. But that will not hide the evil for our works have revealed the following secret, “Yes, that is what God has said by His prophet, but that is not what we do.” Shepherd’s Rod book, Vol. 1 p.189-190.