One Christmas I was invited to a party. On the invitation, i saw the words “white elephant”. I got so excited, and my mind began to race about what piece of junk I own would be the funniest gift. I looked in my closet, in my room and in the garage. I finally found a piece of junk that I could get rid of and would be the talk of the party. I couldn’t wait to get there and play the game.
On the night of the party, I kept laughing to myself at the poor person who would open my gift. After we sat down and drew numbers, the game began. When the first person opened their gift, it was nice. I was confused. The next person went, and their gift was nice as well. Did these people not know what a white elephant was? I opened the email while I waited for my turn. I read the whole thing that said, “White elephant style with a $20 minimum gift.”
When the person opened my gift, the looked confused. There wasn’t laughter at all. They said, “Really?” Another person chimed in, “That’s all?” The hits said, “Maybe there’s a gift card in there.” Instead of bringing the best gift, I had brought the worst. I stayed silent as they asked who brought it. I was embarrassed and didn’t want to own up to it. It got me thinking about the wisemen and how they didn’t just bring their leftovers. They brought their best gift that fit for a king.
Matthew 2:11 says, “They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (NLT). You and I may not have gold, frankincense or myrrh laying around, but we have giftings and talents we can offer the King. What are we offering Him? Is it our junk? Or is it our best gift? We will each present Him with something on judgement day. Let’s make sure we are giving God our best.
Photo by David Everett Strickler on Unsplash
As a kid, the greatest thing about Christmas was getting presents. Now, as an adult, it’s giving them. Instead of being consumed by the anticipation of wondering what’s in the wrapped box, now there’s the anticipation of their reaction. For me, the excitement is in the waiting up until Christmas thinking about how much they’re going to love it. The feeling of getting the right gift for someone else is priceless.
Did you know that giving is good for you? Studies show that giving gifts builds your emotional heal as well as your relationships with others. “The Psychology Behind Gift Giving” by South University says, “Giving a gift is a universal way to show interest, appreciation, and gratitude, as well as strengthen bonds with others.“ It also has greater value to you if you give without expecting anything in return.
You and I were created to give. When Genesis says that we were made in the image of God, I believe that’s one of His attributes that we were given. Think about the most famous scripture in the Bible. John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world so much that He GAVE His only begotten Son” (KJV). We give gifts because God is a giver. He gave us life through creation. He gave us His Son so that we could be with Him one day. He also encourages us to follow His example of giving.
Acts 20:35 says, “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed [and brings greater joy] to give than to receive’” (AMP). This Christmas season, focus on giving more than receiving. Find someone who has no ability to return the favor of buying you a gift, a give them a gift that will bless them. You’ll get psychological and spiritual benefits, and it will help you connect with your creator. This year, discover the importance of giving.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
A big part of the stress of Christmas is buying gifts. How much should you spend? What do they want? Will I find parking at the mall? Will it be sold out? Will they love it? What if they return it? All these questions create stress in purchasing gifts. Multiply that by how many people are on your list and there in lies the level of your stress. Some people try to avoid all that stress by purchasing everything online. There’s also a stress with that. Will it look like the picture? Will it get here in time? How do you return it if you have to? There are so many things to worry about.
There’s a story in Luke 21 about a widow giving a gift. She might have been stressed too. As she stood in the temple and waited to bring her gift to God, several others made a show about their gifts. Verse one says that Jesus watched as the rich people dropped their gifts in the collection box. I’m sure she was watching too. As others dropped off their bags of money, she stood there with two little coins. She could have been wondering, “Is this enough? It’s nothing compared to the gifts they’re bringing in.” When the time seemed right, she went and gave her small gift to God.
Jesus was still watching when she did. He turned to the others around him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them.” Her tiny gift meant more to God than the extravagant gifts that others brought. Why? Because it was from her heart. She knew that it’s not the size of the gift or the amount of the gift that matters. She knew that even though she didn’t have much, what she had belonged to God. She gave Him what He had given her. Everything. She wasn’t content to give a fraction of what she had because God hadn’t given her a fraction of what He had. She gave everything she had.
When it comes to giving gifts, it’s not the price tag that matters. When it comes to giving to God, it’s not the amount that matters. What matters to God and others is if it came from the heart. Anyone can give from their surplus. Anyone can give a gift in order to gain the praise of people. It takes a special person to give a gift that matters. It takes a person who isn’t intimidated by the show that others make of their giving to step out and give a gift that matters. Jesus is watching and sees it all. He sees beyond the external side of giving gifts and looks into the heart. He doesn’t measure gifts by the amount, He measures them by the attitude.
This Christmas season, don’t stress over the things that really don’t matter. You should live your life to please an audience of one. Giving gifts is meant to be a joyous occasion. Since the very beginning, God has been a giver. If you look at how God gives and what He looks for in givers, it’s not about excess. He’s never been impressed by that. He is always impressed with those who give from their hearts and who give their all. Don’t be ashamed that your gifts may not be as extravagant as what other people give. Give anyway. The smallest gift is often the biggest gift to God.