As much as this season is about giving, it is also about receiving. Every gift given has an intended recipient. Think about the gifts you have received in your life. Did you always receive them with joy? Why would one not receive a gift with joy?
Let’s peek in on a few less than joyful recipients on Christmas and read the “bubbles over their heads” (like in the comics) that show what they are thinking.
“Why would he give me a gift at all? I hardly even know him. What is he trying to get from me?”
“Look at this. It’s not even my size.”
“I can’t believe she gave me something this cheap … after what I spent on her.”
“Oh my goodness … now I’ll have to get him a gift!”
Have you ever been unhappy with a Gift from God?
Some might think … “I hardly know God. Why would He give me a gift? He must want something from me. What’s behind this gift?” The fact that a person does not know God does not mean that God does not know him. In fact, the recognition of a Gift may be the first step to getting to know the Giver … if we will suspend our skepticism for a moment. Look at God’s Gifts to you and begin to know Him.
Some might think … “It’s not my size. This gift is way too small.” Should we exchange it? No, God just might be trying to give us the message that what is needed is less of us and more of Him.
Some might think … “It’s not my size. This gift is way too big.” Would God give us something too big for us? Absolutely! Some of His Gifts are for us to grow into … and one day, after we are bigger, they will fit just fine!
Some might think … “After all the work I’ve done for God, why isn’t He paying me better? I work hard all year and I don’t even get a Christmas bonus?? I’ve got no end of problems. What’s up with this?” Gifts are gifts, not payment for services rendered. God may have in mind giving you the pearl of great price … and you know how pearls are made … many repetitions of irritating sand inside that oyster (rough translation: some assembly required!).
“Now I’ll have to get Him a Gift.” If your motivation is to pay God for His Gifts, forget it. You don’t have enough to pay for what He has given you. But if you would like to give Him a Gift, He’d love it! What could you possibly get the One Who really does have everything? When I used to ask my father what he would like for Christmas, he would say, “Just your love. That will be more than enough!” God, our Father, says the same.
Can a gift be given, but not received? Try this experiment. Close both of your hands tightly. Now ask a family member to give you something you want … but whatever you do, don’t open your hands. Did you receive it? No.
Sometimes our prayers are like that. We fervently ask God to give us something, but we never open our hearts to receive it fully. If He gives something in wrapping paper that we don’t recognize or a gift that requires some assembly, we reject it … and keep begging.
The Good News is God has already given us many, many gifts … but some have gone unwrapped because we couldn’t believe they were for us. Some have gone unused because we didn’t recognize their value. Right now, take a moment and make a list … not of what you want for Christmas … but of what you have already received from God.
You may find yourself reaching up with hands wide open to express your love for God … and wonder of wonders … you will find He has even more Gifts to give you. Get ready to receive!
The Gift of God is Eternal Life in Christ Jesus our Lord.