Don’t give my man a hard time, because this has a happy ending, but he once gave me the worst gift ever! You first must know that gift giving is not his love language, but way back then it was mine. Bad combo. It was our first Christmas as husband and wife, during the days when I just expected him to know me and my heart’s desire. Instead, I got a bag of cashews.
I hated cashews, but I loved my husband. I’m sure the look on my face was one of bewilderment, even though I tried to fake a happily surprised look. After all, the stores were full of all sorts of fun, beautiful, useful items. Cashews? Bless him.
Giving gifts at Christmas is something we just do in our culture. It’s a gesture somewhat expected, even by those who don’t choose to celebrate Christ. My husband did not grow up with a mom who went overboard on decorating and gift giving. She did, however, go big on the celebration of Jesus.
We give gifts in our culture out of obligation at times, even resorting to the regift just to show up with something. There is no thought behind it at all; just something we must do. If you have ever received a gift that was nothing more than an expected gesture, you get it. In fact you’ve already returned it, dropped it at Good Will, or regifted it at a company party.
Most of us would agree that those gifts are the worst gifts.
The most meaningful ones are those thoughtfully chosen especially for you. Someone listened to your hints or perhaps saw a need; someone knew you well enough to know your taste and wishes. A carefully chosen gift can melt your heart, right?
I cry every time I read The Gift of the Magi– a story of a wife who sold her hair to buy her husband a chain for his pocket watch not knowing he sold his watch to buy her a hair clip. Each thoughtfully sacrificed their own treasure for the other, seeking to bring them joy.
In the hustle and bustle of a commercialized Christmas culture, we easily overlook Christ. I just want to remind us all that when we were still a mess, he saw us. He knew what our greatest need and our greatest desire was. He thought about us, not as an obligation, but as his precious children. God sacrificed his most beloved seeking to bring us into fellowship with him.
Jesus in a manger is not merely a gesture. He was not given out of obligation, but out of the most personal love we could ever receive.
The year before we were married, while at my in-law’s house, my husband gave me a gift that I did not quite understand. He gave me a small piece of wood wrapped in Christmas paper, and when I opened it I thought it was a joke and tossed it in his lap. He just chuckled and reached in a bag for another one to give me. It was also a piece of wood, but shaped differently. It almost looked like a person. He enjoyed watching my puzzled looks way more than he should have!
I continued opening the pieces, two resembling cows. When I opened the one that appeared to be a king, I smiled. Finally he gave me a large wooden stable that was the backdrop for his hand-crafted nativity scene. The nativity was also a puzzle, each piece fitting together into the stable. It was beautiful.
Before our first Christmas together, Trent used his hands, his tools, and his love for Jesus to make a gift for me that has become a treasure to our family. We are blessed by both the gift and the giver.
Paul wrote that our daily life is our worship to Jesus, our gift to him. I pray that we would never speak to him, serve him, or sing to him as an expected gesture or an obligation- let’s not give Jesus the worst kind of gift. May our words be carefully chosen offerings and our decisions sacrifices of our love for him.
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:1-2 The Message
Joy to the World! The Lord has come!