It is the time of year that we all start thinking about giving and receiving gifts. Sometimes these are handmade gifts that show our heart to those who receive them. Sometimes they are store bought gifts but can still show someone how much we care about them. At other times it can be a gift of time or talents. It could be as simple as a phone call to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” or to say “I love you”.
Whatever the case may be, the act of giving and receiving gifts has been around since the dawn of time, and is one of the oldest forms of social interaction. In this act, we can see something of the culture of the person giving the gift, as well as the practices of the society in which they live. For instance, there is an old superstition that if someone gifts you a knife, you should in return gift them a coin. According to the superstition, this prevents the friendship from being severed by the sharp blade. The origins of this superstition are unknown, but it is widely spread. One Japanese knife maker includes a coin in every box of knives they ship. A variation of this in Scotland shows a knife being gifted with the blade embedded inside of a block of wood.
In some cultures, giving a gift in return for receiving one is expected, while in others it is not. For instance: when the English arrived in America, they were greeted by the native Americans who gave them gifts. The native Americans expected that the English would give them gifts in return, but this was not the custom in England and caused some strife between the parties.
In most cases a return gift is not expected but is a very nice gesture. When a gift is freely given however there is no expectation of anything being given back. We read in the Bible about gifts that we have received from God. In 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, 1 Peter 4, and Ephesians 4 we read about the spiritual gifts. These gifts are freely given, the only expectation being that we use these gifts to serve and glorify God.
2 Corinthians 9:15 says “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”. In Ephesians 2:8 we read “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God “. This is the ultimate gift that God has given us. His name is Jesus Christ. Again, this gift is freely given to anyone who ask for it. Being given this gift gives us salvation form sin and eternal life with God.
The funny thing about a gift is that it always requires one thing from the person who is being given the gift, even if the gift is freely given. This one important thing that is always required is that the gift must be accepted. If someone gives you the best gift in the world, but you don’t do accept it, then the gift is wasted. Just as with all other gifts, the ultimate gift that God has given us is worthless if we do not accept it.
So, this Christmas season, as we celebrate Jesus coming to earth (the gift of God) by giving each other gifts and spending time with family and friends, ask yourself “Why wouldn’t I accept a gift given to me freely by God?”.
Merry Christmas to everyone and a very Happy New Year! God Bless!