Main Point: The gifts we give to others must stem from our love and appreciation of them. Otherwise, we’re just going through the motions.
Discussion Starter: Sheldon and Penny Trade Christmas Gifts
The Big Bang Theory is one of the most popular shows on television. It revolves around four really nerdy guys who are scientific know-it-alls…and their next door neighbor, Penny, who is a waitress at The Cheesecake Factory. Millions watch this show every week on CBS, and millions more do so online (and through syndication on TBS).
Sheldon is the main character. He has a PhD in theoretical physics, but has the social skills of a groundhog. Since he’s a scientist, he doesn’t believe in God or faith, and his friends are likewise, even though one of them is Jewish.
The show is almost always good for a laugh, but occasionally does it involve crude or sexual language/humor. However, this clip is free of both and will give you a great way to jumpstart a conversation about giving gifts to those we love and appreciate.
Introducing the Clip:
Unless you just crawled out from under a rock, you’ve heard of the TV show, The Big Bang Theory. In fact, based on your Facebook posts, many of you watch it. I’m going to show you a clip from that series tonight that is taken from one of their Christmas episodes. In it, a woman named Penny gives a gift to her scientist neighbor Sheldon who happens to be an atheist without any faith in God or Christianity. It’s also clear from this clip that Sheldon doesn’t have any social skills, either. All you need to know about Sheldon is that he is a HUGE fan of Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy, the guy who played Spock on the original series. Let’s take a look at his hilarious reaction to see what we can learn about our attitudes when it comes to giving gifts to others.
YouTube Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1_zVswbW8s
You can view and play the clip by clicking on this link.
OK, that clip was good for a few laughs, but hopefully you learned something, too. Until Sheldon opened his present from Penny, he thought giving gifts revolved around obligation, in other words, if you give me something, I have to give you something. But then, when he gets the gift of his life, he discovers that gifts are given because of love. No longer is he thinking about giving an equal gift and nothing more! His only thought becomes giving the best gift he can give because he has received so much. Let’s see if this principle applies in our lives as Christians.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we begin, let’s all take a moment to share our names and, if you’ve seen the show, share your favorite character on The Big Bang Theory.
- ASK A FEW: If you knew Sheldon, would you want to give a gift to him? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: Why do you think Penny gave Sheldon the really cool gift she gave?
- ASK A FEW: Have you ever received an “obligatory” gift like the one Sheldon was planning on giving Penny? How did you know?
- ASK A FEW: How did that gift change Sheldon’s mind about giving gifts?
- ASK A FEW: As Christians, we’ve received a major Gift from God, His Son, Jesus. We also receive gifts from others. What should our attitude be like when it comes to GIVING gifts?
- ASK A FEW: What should be our motive when it comes to giving gifts to others?
Read the following passage:
NOTE: You may want to explain to your students that this part of Paul’s letter focused on the important issue of money. Paul expected the churches that he started to give him money to start other churches. This church in Corinth had already done this before, and was willing to do it again. So, Paul wrote to them and was trying to make sure they were definitely ready to give their gift.
- 2 Corinthians 9:2-7 (NLT)
For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to our friends in Macedonia that you Christians in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of them to begin helping. 3 But I am sending these brothers just to be sure that you really are ready, as I told them you would be, with your money all collected. I don’t want it to turn out that I was wrong in my boasting about you. 4 I would be humiliated– and so would you– if some Macedonian Christians came with me, only to find that you still weren’t ready after all I had told them! 5 So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given under pressure. 6 Remember this– a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully.
- ASK SOMEONE: How does Paul describe this church’s attitude about their willingness to give in verse 2?
- ASK A FEW: How does their “eagerness” to give compare to Sheldon’s attitude about giving, at least his attitude BEFORE he received an awesome gift?
- ASK A FEW: Why do you think this church was so “eager” to give? (Leaders – Maybe they were just being obedient; they knew God expected them to give. Maybe they were being sacrificial; they had received, and now they want others to receive. Maybe they were being generous. Maybe they really wanted the church in Macedonia to grow.)
- ASK A FEW: In verse 5, Paul says he wants their gift to be a “willing” gift? Why is that important?
- ASK A FEW: When it comes to giving gifts, some people say “It’s the thought that counts.” Do you agree or not? Why?
- ASK A FEW: Paul makes the case that his friends in Corinth should be generous. He uses a farmer as an analogy. Do you think his advice makes sense or not?
- ASK A FEW: Why do you think God loves a cheerful giver?
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: How does your attitude need to change when it comes to giving gifts?
Not only did we watch a hilarious clip tonight, but we got a chance to look at what true gift giving is all about. Sheldon thought that giving gifts was all about obligation, and so he originally tried to pass on the whole thing. Then, he got a killer gift…and gave very generously to his friend Penny. His response to that gift should be a challenge to all of us.
As Christians, we’ve received so much from God. He has given us life, salvation, hope, peace, joy, mercy, compassion…the list goes on and on. Since we have received so much, we should be willing to give much, as well.
During this Christmas season, hopefully you’re thinking about giving gifts as much as receiving them. True, it’s fun to get presents, but the real joy is in giving to others. But you’ll only realize that IF you actually try it!
But don’t do it as an experiment! Instead, give gifts to those you love…because you love them! Then, you’ll feel like Sheldon felt. You’ll also know why Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians was so important. You will know what it’s like to give gifts out of love, not out of obligation.
(NOTE: If you have a cool story about sharing a gift with someone you love, insert it here. It will make for a great personalization of this lesson.)
This won’t be easy to do. Giving gifts out of love not only requires money, but time and consideration, as well. However the effort is well worth it. But you won’t know until you try it. I hope you do!
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.