For many of us, gifts are a huge part of what makes this time of year magical.
No matter how stressed you’ve felt January – November … It’s hard to have a grumpy attitude when we are giving and receiving gifts.
The focus of the season is the gift of Jesus. But I also believe that God wants us to enjoy the feeling we get as we watch our loved ones open the gifts we’ve given them.
“God wants us to experience the same joy He experiences every time we use the gifts He’s given us.”
With about 10 days left until Christmas, my mind is full of thoughts of gift giving. I’ve been checking my list and making sure I have everything ready.
The shopping experience certainly has been different the last two years. With Covid, I think we’ve all done much of our shopping online.
Nowadays, people can text you a link to what they want, you can open the link, click ‘Purchase’, and even have it wrapped and shipped directly to that person.
Sure, it’s convenient. But it also takes away the personal touch.
Do you remember shopping before the days of electronic registries and online wishlists?
For the most part, we had the freedom to get what we wanted to give that person. I loved planning and searching for exactly the right gift. I had so much fun imagining how they would react when they opened it, thinking of them enjoying and using the gift.
How we receive gifts:
I remember one such gift vividly. It was a beautiful glass salad bowl I picked out for my mom. At age 5, I had saved money by doing chores, and my dad took me to buy it. I can still remember holding that bowl in my lap as we drove home. I could hardly wait for Christmas morning – the anticipation of hoping my mom would love the bowl was even stronger than wondering what gifts were under the tree for me. Her reaction did not disappoint me and her continued display of the christmas bowl in the china cabinet and its use at every gathering to this day still brings a smile to my face over, we’ll just say, 45 some years later.
Now, I also remember a gift that wasn’t so well received. When my sister was very little, she was going to have surgery, and I wanted to have something waiting for her when she got home. I bought her a big stuffed animal, and I was so excited for her to come home and snuggle with it. But when she got home, she told me the stuffed animal was ugly and that it wasn’t what she wanted. It found its home on the floor.
Friends, When we use the gifts that God gives us— the way my mom used the salad bowl—God loves it. It is blessing someone else and reflecting His glory.
It is not prideful, it is actually an act of worship.
What good would that bowl do on display- actually that would be prideful! On display in a china hutch, my mom could show it to guests and they could look at it through the glass.
But, when they pass it to each other and take nourishment from it while sitting at her table – that not only brings me joy, it blesses all of them as well. That is what God desires, that is what bring Him joy. To see you use the gifts He gave you to bless others because that is what give Him glory!
Unfortunately there are times when, like my sister tossing her gift to the floor, the gift that God gives us does not get used and no one is blessed. God is not glorified, and I bet He feels like I did seeing that stuffed animal on the floor every day.
I don’t want God to feel like the gifts He gave to me are unwanted.
1 Peter 4:10 calls us to use our gifts to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace.
“Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God.”
Peter is specifically talking about spiritual gifts, but the general idea of blessing others also carries over to our talents. God doesn’t give us anything just for our own benefit.
After all, we’re blessed to be a blessing. Genesis 12:2 says “I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”
God gave us gifts so that by using them we will be a blessing and we will be blessed.
So, how do we unwrap the gifts that God gave us and use them?
- Maybe there’s a ministry that could use your skills or talents to bless and bring joy to others.
- Depending on your schedule, you could use your gifts to volunteer at a school or children’s church class.
- If your gift is hospitality, invite your neighbors over for coffee or a meal.
- If you paint, hold art classes for nursing home residents or gift them some of your work.
- If you look at your community or even across your street, you’ll find a need you can meet with the gifts God has given you.
There is no registry for the gifts God gives us! The gifts God gives each one of us are different: every single gift is customized. He chose them for us!
The joy of watching others use their gifts:
One of the Christmas traditions I grew up with is that our family takes turns opening gifts. This way we can see what the person is getting and who it is from. When the kids were little, there were times when they thought that one of their siblings got more gifts or a better gift. As they got older, they were able to be happy for each other and actually focus more on looking forward to watching others receive their gifts instead of only being concerned with what they got.
As humans, it’s only natural for us to notice what talents and callings God has given to other people. Instead of giving in to comparison, I hope that you will rejoice for them and look forward to seeing how they use their gifts! This is exactly what God wants us to do.
Finally, God gave us the ultimate gift that would ensure that if we accepted it we would be home with Him, and that his son!
My prayer for you this week is that we celebrate the gift of Jesus’ birth and the gift of his life by giving our gifts to our loved ones.
Then let us bow down and worship him. Let us open our treasures and fill Him with joy as we use the gifts He has given us.
I’ll be taking the month of January 2022 off and when I return in February the podcast will be audio only.