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Is Giving Better than Receiving?

Giving and receiving at Christmas

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider whether it is better to give than to receive.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the Bible passage that is found at Luke 21.1-4. If possible, arrange for a student to read the passage. It is available at:


  1. Ask the students, ‘What do you like best about Christmas?’

    Pause to allow time for thought.

    For some people, it may be the decorations, family get-togethers, food, the hope of snow and so on, but for many, it is the presents!

  2. We all like to get presents, but in this consumer society, people often spend more than they can afford at Christmas, only to find that, when January arrives, they are in debt. With presents to purchase, parties to attend and trees and decorations to buy, it can be too easy to spend, spend, spend without ever stopping to think about money. Often, it is only when the festivities are over that people realize that the money has gone.

    Last year, National Debtline, a debt advice charity, found that about 7.9 million people (16 per cent of the UK population) expected to be behind on their finances in January because of Christmas spending. This is an 11 per cent increase on the previous year and highlights the growing problem that people have with credit card debt. Many people also acknowledged that they were still paying off debts from the previous Christmas.

  3. So, why do so many people feel that they have to spend so much at Christmas? A recent survey suggested the following reasons for parents spending large amounts on their children.

    - Parents want their children to be happy.
    - People simply give in to pressure from advertisements and so on.
    - Parents don’t want their children to have less than their peers.
    - Parents feel guilty and buy large presents to try to quash their guilt.
    - Children pester their parents until they eventually give in.

  4. In the Bible, there is a story about a person who gave a gift.

    Read, or invite a pre-arranged student to read, the Bible passage at Luke 21.1-4.

  5. The widow in this story did not give more money than the other people; in fact, she gave far less. However, the story reminds us that it is not the amount that we give to someone that matters, but the love that lies behind it. This widow showed great love for God by giving all that she had.

Time for reflection

In the Bible, in Acts 20.35, Jesus is quoted as saying, ‘It is better to give than to receive.’

At Christmas, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of what we want for ourselves, without remembering that we can get huge enjoyment from giving to others.

This Christmas, let’s remember that it isn’t how much something costs that matters, but rather, the love that is behind the gift.

Let’s also remember that love, care, thoughtfulness and kindness are all great gifts to share with our families and friends - and they are free!

As we approach Christmas, let’s pause and think about those who are close to us, our families and our friends. Let’s aim to make Christmas a happy time for all of them.

Let’s remember that our attitudes to giving and receiving can affect those around us. Let’s aim to be joyful givers and thankful receivers!

Dear God,
Help us to be grateful for everything that we receive this Christmas, regardless of the cost.
Please let the presents that we give bring joy to others.
May we remember your gift to the world this Christmas.


Any appropriate Christmas song, or The prayer of St Francis (Make me a channel of your peace)’ (Come and Praise, 147). A version is available at: (4.19 minutes long)

Publication date: December 2019   (Vol.21 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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