“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” James 1:17
In the context of the holiday season, we realize a gift by any other name is still a package or a present. Or is it?
According to Merriam-Webster, a gift is “something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation.”
Notice that last phrase “without compensation.” I think this might be the place where our concept of a gift has become confused.
If we show up to a Christmas party and someone gives us a gift, we want to reciprocate. In fact, we feel embarrassed if we don’t have a present for them. Why? We’ve made a social fumble and breached appropriate etiquette.
And in so doing, we have forgotten that a gift is free and doesn’t demand anything in return.
I enjoy seeing the light in the eyes of a person when they receive my gift. I saw something and it reminded me of them, so I bought it for them. It means I care for them and think of them even when we aren’t together.
A gift relays a message. I love you. You make me proud. I’m glad you’re my friend. I couldn’t have picked a better sister. This day is special. Check out the greeting card section if you need further proof.
At the same time, though, I’m especially irritable about being able to reciprocate. After all, I’m financially able. Why is this so important? Because I have felt ashamed when I was unable to participate in a gift exchange.
You see, that is what giving has become in our society: a gift exchange. We give John a gift on his birthday and he’ll give us one on ours. Not because he wants to, but because he’ll feel it’s the only socially acceptable course of action.
Do we give gifts to others in hopes of receiving? If we do, we’ve completely missed the point of a gift. Further, our selfish humanity is showing. And it’s not attractive.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). What does God expect in return for this priceless gift? Nothing.
He gave to us freely without any sense of obligation on either end. That’s what makes salvation a gift.
Give without expecting to receive; otherwise, it’s not a gift.
Next week: Giving: Displayed