by Patti Richter
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights. James 1:17 NIV
It’s my favorite holiday, though I don’t observe it well. And since Christmas comes only once a year, maybe I could be excused for still trying to get it right. But maybe not, since I’ve had so many years to practice.
One challenge for me is in gift-giving, because I’ve never enjoyed shopping. I’d rather be writing Christmas cards or making my annual cherry-cream pie. But an even bigger problem for me is gift-receiving, which likely goes back to my childhood. The Santa who visited my first home typically delivered a new pair of basic sneakers and a stocking filled with tangerines and walnuts.
You would think that ho-ho-hum history should make me appreciate more extravagant gifts. Instead, the nicer the gift, the harder it is for me to receive. A recent Christmas casualty was the gift of a red coat from my husband, Jim, who selected the most expensive item on my wish list. But I decided to return it for several reasons: not the fabric I expected; not a perfect fit; too high-priced.
Jim is actually a great gift-giver. Left to himself—without my wish-list—he can select a gift I really need before I even realize that need. I believe this quality has everything to do with Christmas. God gave his most extravagant gift to the world by sending a Savior—before we even realized we needed saving. Yet many potential recipients of God’s Gift have missed out by their right of refusal.
With my analytical outlook, I might have been numbered among those circa A.D. 30 folks who found a reason to reject the Son of God. Plenty of sincere people of faith had doubts about a man who grew up in the obscure town of Nazareth. “’Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked”(John 1:46 NIV).
Pharisees and other religious leaders might have had “enforcer of the Law” on their wish list. Instead, they got a preacher from Galilee, who disturbed their self-righteousness by reminding them of the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”(Matthew 22:37 – 38 NIV). Jesus was not cut from the cloth they expected.
The zealots—political extremists of their day—wanted a new earthly king more than a heavenly one. They had hoped Jesus would stand on their platform, so they suffered disappointment over the humble man who entered Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey. He was the wrong fit for their agenda.
The rich and powerful scrutinized Jesus and grew uncomfortable with some of his words, like, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36 NIV). Some of them decided that following Jesus would be too costly.
For believers, the challenge to get Christmas right can be a distraction from receiving the gift of Christ with greater appreciation. This better goal would include:
- Accepting his words as good and perfect, when we wish he had said something else.
- Fitting ourselves to his plans, instead of wanting him to approve ours.
- Following him when it cost us something to do so.
Don’t miss the reason for all the December celebrating. Receive it as God intended. He is the greatest gift giver.
This article brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.
Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.
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4 thoughts on “One Expensive Christmas Gift”
Good word, Patti. And I totally understand the feeling of being uncomfortable by receiving gifts until my husband reminded me that when I want to refuse gifts or help, I’m robbing those dear souls of their blessing.
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True, Terri. And for that reason, I’m getting better at receiving gifts.
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True. And for that reason, I’m getting better at it!
It’s still a struggle, isn’t it. ❤
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