"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23
I was completely struck by a musing thought earlier today, and I can't stop musing on it. I think it's going to be interesting to see what all God has to show me about this thought. I was looking through the local newspaper, and right there was a big headline that said Christmas Memories Should Be About Giving. It was an editorial piece, and I didn't actually read the article because I was so caught up by the headline. Really? Christmas memories should be about giving? And so I started to think on that, because that is really what we keep hearing over and over- it's not about receiving gifts, it's about giving them, and I can't help but think that maybe, just maybe, we're all a little bit wrong in that regard.
From a natural standpoint, I have to say, that if I think about this idea of giving gifts, that right there is a huge source of my stress this season. How can one give to others when there is nothing to give? Does that mean that we're guilty of voiding the whole Christmas spirit because we don't have anything to give?
And why is Christmas supposed to be about giving in the first place? I think in a quaint way, it's supposed to remind us all of the fact that God gave us an incredible gift two thousand years ago. God gave us all eternal life, and somehow, when we give a gift, it's supposed to... I don't know... somehow make us think that we're being like our Father and giving good gifts to those we love. Um, when I give someone a gift, I'm giving them a gift because I love them, and I was thinking of them, yes. But when I physically hand over a gift-wrapped package, that doesn't somehow magically make me think of the Greatest Gift Of All. Let's just be honest here, it doesn't. When I physically hand someone a gift, I'm thinking about how I think they are really going to like what is hiding in that package. Sometimes I'll even have a little story prepared as to why that particular thing made me think of them.
Receiving a gift, on the other hand, does make me reflect on the goodness of God. When I open a package that someone so thoughtfully put together for me, it reminds me of my Good Father, who knows what I like and what I would love to have, and He places my desires in someone elses heart, so that when they see that thing, they think of me and get that thing to give to me. When I receive a gift, it's not at all about the monetary value of whatever is hiding beneath that paper, it's knowing that the giver has purposed to give me something that will bring me joy. I absolutely cannot receive a gift without feeling all warm and fuzzy inside- and feeling very much like the Grinch in the movie when his heart grew three sizes. Even if that gift turns out to be something on the strange side, the physical act of receiving a gift does something.
It's time for us to open up our hearts and really and truly receive Christmas. Now, does this mean that we're not going to be giving Christmas gifts? Of course not. If we can find the funds to purchase or make gifts, we will certainly be doing so, but it does mean a shift in our thinking. Honestly, it means that I'm done dwelling on all the gifts that we are not going to be able to do. It also means that each and every gift that I end up on the receiving end of will be all the more special, because you know what? God would do it all over again. He would send Jesus to die for us over and over if that was necessary, because He loves us THAT much.
And sadly, there are those who look at that Greatest Gift and decide to return it. Or they want to exchange it, thinking that maybe there's something better out there than Jesus. But the beauty of the Greatest Gift is that it's always available. Jesus is always there, always ready and waiting with arms wide open. The gift of God's Love is the most precious thing... and it's nothing that you or I can give. It's something that only God can give.
This Christmas, it's all about receiving.