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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

The Gift Exchange

I have many fond memories of Christmas morning. As a child, I loved saving up my allowance and picking out special gifts for each family member; and I admit – I loved getting presents!

But not long after I became a Christian, I struggled with the commercialism of Christmas. I read emails about Jesus being disappointed, because no one gave Him gifts or paid Him attention at His own birthday party. I watched news stories about people celebrating the holiday season by beating each other over the head with the latest must-have toy and trampling each other to death, in order to get a great deal on a big screen T.V. - and I felt guilty.

To make matters worse, my mother was the most generous grandmother on the planet who looooooved to shop for toys, so she could watch the delight on my children’s faces when they opened their packages. That wasn’t a bad thing. I just worried that my kids would miss the point of it all. I constantly had to reign in her gift giving.

Then one Christmas, she bought my oldest son a guitar. He was 15 and had asked for a guitar every Christmas since he could say the word “gee-taw.” I had always discouraged my mother from buying him one, because we couldn’t afford guitar lessons. He was also the shyest kid on the planet, and I knew there was no way that kid was ever going to get up in front of anyone and play the guitar. Thank God she didn’t listen to me.

At first, I thought the gift was a ridiculous, excessive waste of time and money. He studied the instruction manual and picked around on it here and there, but quickly got discouraged. His music was recognizable, but not necessarily entertaining or enjoyable.

Then God allowed a major upheaval in our life that took our family to a new church, where each Wednesday night someone gave free guitar lessons to the youth. The man was re-gifting the gift God had given him to other believers - so the gift God gave him could keep on giving. God's gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold, his wages better than sterling silver! (Proverbs 8:19) I don’t even think that he taught my son anything that he didn’t already know from the instruction manual, but the accountability of having to practice and report back every week kept him from giving up so easily when he got frustrated.

The accountability and encouragement multiplied my son’s abilities a hundred fold. Soon, he was so excited that he was practicing for hours – and I mean hours! Now, he leads worship, writes music, and plays in our church praise band. As I am typing this Devotion, he is sitting in a room in California with Matt Redman, the songwriter of “The Heart of Worship,” as Matt Redman re-gifts his songwriting skills to others, including my son, so his gift can keep on giving.

In Matthew 2:10-11 we read the memorable account of the three wise men's gifts:

When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

My son’s experience changed my view about gift giving. I no longer believe that exchanging gifts to celebrate the birth of our Savior is excessive or wasteful. I see it now as a way of celebrating the greatest gift exchange in all of Creation - as God came to earth as a tiny baby, lived the perfect life we should have lived, suffered the death we should have died, and exchanged our condemnation for His mercy and forgiveness. What better way could we celebrate Christmas, than to re-gift the good news of His precious gift of salvation, and share our gifts, blessings, and talents with future generations for His glory, honor, and praise?

Jesus is the reason for every season of our lives. Every day is an opportunity to re-gift our gifts, talents, and blessings to others. Now, every Christmas we intentionally bless our children with “re-gift-able” gifts of music, art, and other skills to be passed on for generations to come.

What gifts has God given you that you can “re-gift” to others this Christmas?

Copyright 2010, Kathy Thomas. Used by permission.

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