The anatomy of a true gift

wrapped_present_boxDecember is the season of gift giving. Though gifts are given throughout the year (for births and birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, etc) – this is the season where gift giving is rampant and expected. Traffic is horrible. Lines are long. Everything is on sale and everyone is buying something for someone.

I have been thinking a lot about gifts this season, why we give them and to whom. I used to think about what I want. Now I think about what I need. I used to think about what I would get. Now I think about what I will give. Lately, I have been pondering what makes a gift a gift. Below are some general thoughts about gifts and what’s behind them.

Gifts are the visible, tangible expressions of love.
Why do we give gifts? To show love. WHO do we give them to? To those we love. This truth is so obvious we might actually miss it. Never has a total stranger handed me a thoughtful gift picked just for me. Gifts are only given to those we care about. Sometimes that gift is wrapped, other times it is in the form of time, attention, affection, money, prayers, forgiveness, etc. Whenever someone gives you a gift – they are saying way more than just “here’s a thing I bought or did for you”. They are saying they care and this is how they are choosing to express it.

The bigger the gift, the greater the expression of love.
There is usually a direct correlation between the sacrifice required to “purchase” the gift and the love of the giver. It is for this reason that most men spend a small fortune on an engagement ring. The gift is more than a ring, it is a statement. It is their attempt to show the greatest expression of the love they feel for their betrothed. The sacrifice required to afford the “rock” communicates the height and depth and breadth of love from the giver. It was with this in mind that David’s men risked their lives to get him precious water from the well of Bethlehem (II Samuel 23:15-16). Getting the water from there was a HUGE gift and it was just the right size to communicate how much they loved their king.

You cannot pay for a true gift.
What makes a gift a gift is that you received it for free. If you paid for it, it would be called a “purchase” and no longer a gift.

You cannot earn a true gift.
What makes a gift a gift is that you received it for free. If you earned it, it would be called a “wage” and no longer a gift.

You do not deserve a true gift
What makes a gift a gift is that you received it for free. If you deserved it, it would be called a “right” and no longer a gift.

Every true gift requires a sacrifice from the giver.
In II Samuel 24, David was severely disciplined by the Lord for taking a census of the people. After watching 70,000 men die as a result of David’s sin, David was instructed by the prophet Gad to “build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite“. When David approached Araunah and told him of his desire to purchase the threshing floor from him, Araunah offered it to David at no charge. David’s response? “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing” (vs. 24). David desired to give the Lord a true gift and he knew that a gift worthy of the Lord had to be sacrificial.

Every received gift requires a response from the receiver.
Sometimes the response is a simple thank you or thank you card. Other times it is doing something nice for them. Sometimes, the only appropriate response is a surrendered life.

The greater the gift, the greater the response.
This is what Jesus was trying to teach Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7 when He told the story about the moneylender and his two debtors. The moneylender forgave both debtors of their debt even though one had a significantly higher debt than the other. Jesus then asks Simon which debtor loved the moneylender more. The answer is obvious, the one who was gifted with much forgiveness, loves more. Your response to the gift is in direct proportion to your understanding of the size of the gift.

So, with these simple truths in mind about gifts and what’s behind them….let’s consider the Ultimate Gift this Christmas season.
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Gifts are the visible, tangible expressions of love.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

The bigger the gift, the greater the expression of love.
“”This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:12-13

You cannot pay for a true gift.
“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

You cannot earn a true gift.
“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy…” – Titus 3:4-5

You do not deserve a true gift
“But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

Every true gift requires a sacrifice from the giver.
“…Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:5-8

Every received gift requires a response from the receiver.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us…” – Ephesians 5:1

The greater the gift, the greater the response.
“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” – Colossians 2:6-7

Let’s think about His gift to us this season and what our response should be.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” – II Corinthians 9:15

Thanks for --