If you are expecting this to be the typical article listing those "must have" gifts for the holiday season, I must disappoint you. For one thing, Christmas is over. For another, I'm not talking about "the gifts that keep on giving" until the batteries die or the warranty expires or the wheels fall off or the two-year-old gets hold of them. I'm talking about gifts that keep going and never need fixing or touch-ups.
Most of the gifts I've received over my life have been relegated to the ash heap of history. Some have been, shall we say, recycled, a practice I enjoyed before I heard the trendy new word "regifted." It was a great way for an impoverished grad student to give impressive presents to friends without depleting the laundry money. There are very few material gifts that last forever, no less that keep on giving. Also, if you share the gift with someone else, you lose it.
There is a pestilent little party game with various names, most of which are offensive to someone: White Elephant Exchange, Chinese Auction, etc. The gist is that each person, in turn, opens a gift that was brought by someone else. The gifts can range from useless stuff from someone's attic to lovely items from someone's heart. When a person opens a gift, he or she can either keep it or exchange it for someone else's gift. The play continues until the last person has opened the last gift. So, you can start out with a very nice gift, but end up with a used electric foot washer or autographed photo of the Invisible Man. Lots of fun.
James, the Lord's brother, reminds us that "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (1:17). God's gifts to us are always perfect, always timely, always free. His supply is completely dependable. He does not expect or accept returnsHe just expects our gratitude. His gifts are also meant to be used, and used heavily.
What would you think if you opened a package that's been sitting under the tree for thousands of years, and a person popped out? Puppies and kitties might be understandable, but a person? What would you do with him?
This is exactly the finest gift that God offers to mankind: the person of His Son. We just celebrated the birth of Christ, which is also called the Incarnation. It was the day, according to God's perfect timing (Galatians 4:4), that the second Person of the Trinity took on human form and visited the earth as a baby. The Apostle Paul exclaimed, "Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15). Most of us know this passage by heart: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). This gift was given so that we may have eternal life, no strings attached, and without the aid of the Energizer Bunny.
God also gives us all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17), but He expects us to share what we have with others. When Paul thanked the Philippians for their sacrificial gifts to him, he wrote: "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (4:19, NKJV). He knew God would amply resupply them above and beyond what they gave away. "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you," said Jesus in Luke 6:38.
God works things a bit differently than we expect. When we give, we gain. "There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty" (Proverbs 11:24, NKJV). When we "regift" something we didn't want anyway, we lose it. However, if we "regift" in the spiritual realm, we lose nothing.
Share the Good News with someone this monthyou won't lose your faith if you give it away. Use your gifts to encourage othersyou won't run out of energy. Share the good things of the Spirit unto eternal rewardthe gifts that keep on giving!
Alan Allegra is a freelance Christian writer in Pennsylvania. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. More articles at Lifestyles Over 50: http://www.lifestylesover50.com/ and the Morning Call: www.mcall.com. Available for writing. LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alanallegra/
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