The Christmas tradition of giving and receiving gifts follows the example of the Magi gifts presented to the Christ Child. They symbolize God’s gift of his Son to the world — and our receiving that gift. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
It seems that these days we are overly concerned with the purchase of gifts. Some scramble to get the best deals, even shopping in the middle of the night to chase over-hyped bargains and special deals to get the biggest bang for their dollar. Millions are spent by advertisers to lure shoppers into malls, stores and online.
Does this not raise the question, “what is the real value of a gift, or of giving?” How do we determine a gift’s worth? What makes a gift valuable and valued?
- Why is the gift being given?
Birthday gifts are an expression of love. We celebrate that someone exists! However, even birthday gifts can sometimes be used to manipulate emotions, to use the gift as a means to win cooperation or to persuade the gifted to respond in a certain way. Sadly, these gifts are empty expressions, rarely valued by their recipient.
- Is the gift valued?
For gifts to be of value, they must be good and do good for the gifted. A criminal may consider the gift of a weapon as good, but if that weapon is used against another human being, how can it be a good gift? Unless a gift ultimately does the recipient well, it lacks real value.
- What is the actual cost or value of the gift?
How much money someone spends on a gift has nothing to do with its value as a gift. The child who spends hours making a scrapbook for her Mom out of lunch bags, buttons, ribbons and glue builds a gift of great value. A wealthy executive who is so busy that he has his secretary secure “anything” for his wife that costs at least $500 gives very little. Gifting is using one’s heart to enrich, bless, and love the one receiving the gift.
When you receive a gift, there is no expectation of repayment. It is a gift. Gifts that meet great needs or bring blessing to the recipient are the gifts that bring the response of gratitude (though there no guarantee, or should there be). There is no greater revelation of someone’s love than a gift that represents the best someone has to give. A gift that benefits the beneficiary, is given freely, is given in pure love, and that is given with some cost to the giver.
As we celebrate the birth of our Lord at Christmas, it is our prayer that this small essay on the true value of a gift may help you reflect on the greatest gift ever given – the love of God and the gift he gave us all – his only Son who fills our hearts with peace, love and rejoicing. May this gift of love overflow in your hearts.
Merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones, from The Brownings.