Nov 30, 2012

The Gifts Unseen

Start where you are.  Use what you have. Do what you can. – Arthur Ashe

Peter said, “I don’t have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” He grabbed him by the right hand and pulled him up. In an instant his feet and ankles became firm. He jumped to his feet and walked. – Acts 3:6-8 (MSG)

Christmas is a time when giving is emphasized. And it should be. After all, this is the time we celebrate the Ultimate Gift, God’s sending of His perfect Son into our sin-filled, hopeless world so that we could be redeemed and have the relationship with God He always intended.

But much of the time, I don’t feel as though I have anything to offer. I have a heart to give, but my resources often don’t match. And I become disappointed and feel inadequate.

But the truth of the matter is, I—we— possess the very thing the world needs most.

This is a time of year we provide for those in need. We volunteer in our community. We give to our family members and friends to remind them they are loved and appreciated. And we should—it’s important to do those things. But I wonder if we’re focusing on the act of giving itself so much that we’ve completely lost our sense of what the true Gift is.

We can become so focused on the external or tangible aspects of giving, that we forget all about the most important gifts of all—things that can’t be seen or touched or bought—things like forgiveness and grace and a second chance and hope and love and peace—all things that point to the Ultimate Gift of Jesus.

Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

That quote really convicts me. It’s true: ten years from now, five years from now, one year from now people probably won’t remember what I gave them for Christmas 2012, much less care about it any more. But if I’m giving the right kinds of gifts, ones that have been given to me by The Gift—my Savior—they will remember and they will be changed, not because of anything I had to offer, but because of the power of Christ.

And so I’ve asked myself the questions: Am I giving the right kinds of gifts? Do people feel Christ’s peace, grace, love, hope, forgiveness, and mercy when they’re around me? Do I leave others with the feeling that they’ve been given the gift of Jesus when they’ve been near me?

Sadly, the answer is no most of the time. But I want to change that. I want to give the kind of gifts that matter, not just to those I love and care for, but to everyone, not just during this season, but every day of the year. We live in a dying, hurting, depraved world. People need the gift of Jesus. I can’t assume someone else will give Him; I have to take the responsibility myself.

So this year, The Gift will be my gift to those around me.

Be encouraged today. Like Peter, you can give a life-changing, eternal gift to those to those in need around you—the gift of a Savior. People are watching. People are listening. What will they see? What will they hear? How will you make them feel? Christ can never be taken from Christmas as long as He shines through us.