“Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing”
This is the last stanza of the carol, “Good King Wenceslas.”
The story behind the song dates back to the 900s when Bohemian Duke Wenceslas actually looked after the community he was in charge of. However, his family history is a tad messy because when his father died, his grandmother was assassinated, and his mother was banished until the Bohemian people decided to make Wenceslas a duke with his mom as regent. When he turned 18, he banished his mom and his younger brother, Boleslaus, because they were scheming for the seat of power.
However, before Wenceslas’s life was literally cut short, he is known for seeking friendly relations with neighboring kingdoms, reforming the judiciary system by reducing the number of executions and stymying the power of judges. He also supported the building of churches and empathized with the poor and needy, which is what the carol is about. Wenceslas reportedly chopped firewood for orphans and widows and even carried it through snow to their homes.
Sadly, on September 28, 929, his brother assassinated him on his way to church and Wenceslas almost immediately became known as a martyr then was later venerated as patron saint of Czechoslovakia by the Catholic church.
Christmas has become more of a time about “getting” than “giving.” Let’s take a moment to reflect on three reasons why giving is important this holiday season. And maybe when we sing or hear the song, “Good King Wenceslas” we’ll remember to think of how we can bless people around us.
- “Giving is better than receiving.” Yes, it is a cliché, but it is true. Personally, I remember what I give to people more often than what I get from people. And I remember times when people have gone out of their way to bless me and it has meant a lot.
I’m sure you all have experiences where someone has gone out of their way to show you kindness and love and it surprised you, but it made your entire day.
And giving isn’t always necessarily money or presents or materialistic items… giving can be opening up your home and inviting people to Christmas dinner if they have nowhere else to go. Giving can be going out of your way to help your neighbor set up or take down their Christmas lights. Giving can be sacrificing your time to go volunteer at a homeless shelter or a charitable organization. Go fill one of those Christmas shoeboxes or buy a present for one of those angel Christmas trees for someone in need.
I took Christmas for granted growing up. I never had to wonder if I would get presents that year or go have a feast with my family.
Share your blessings this season, and I assure you, you will not regret it.
2. We should give because it pleases God.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
When we give, it’s the opposite of pride and selfishness. Whenever we give from the heart out of a genuine desire to love other people, God is pleased.
But God doesn’t want us to begrudgingly give. How would you feel if someone gave you a present like, “I really didn’t want to buy you a present, but I felt obligated to . . . I hope you like this popcorn; it was only $5 at Walmart but I bought it because I care about you sincerely.”
I would tell them they could keep their popcorn.
God cares about the heart. And whatever we give to God, he is pretty good at multiplying tenfold.
Remember when Jesus fed thousands of people from five pieces of bread and two fish? One little boy was willing to give God his lunch and God used it to provide for a whole lot of people. God doesn’t waste anything. And when we give out of sincerity with a Christ-like attitude, he is pretty good at following through.
3. We should give out of love.
The best example of this is not Santa Claus or even Good King Wenceslas. The best example of giving out of love is Jesus Christ.
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:9-10)
And that is what Christmas should be all about. It shouldn’t be known for the season of spending or shopping or people trying to “get” everything they want, it should be a season of love, generosity and kindness we show to the people around us as we reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.
We celebrate Christmas because Jesus gave up heaven to be born as a humble baby and to one day give his life for the sake of the whole world. And that’s because God loves us.
God loves you.
God died for you.
And because he did, we should love other people the way he loved us. Now I’m not saying we are called to literally and physically die for people, but we should count others as better than ourselves and to live humbly, to live generously, and to do it all in love.
Wenceslaus, the good king, would want you to, and the King of Kings commands it.