It's an honorable quest to find a gift that will be truly appreciated and loved by the recipient. After all, we can all think of a few special gifts that have clearly demonstrated someone's love for us. In fact, gift giving is completely biblical:
For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
God is the one who created gift giving. Sometimes, I like to think of his presence surrounding me and smiling when I notice a little flower he has placed in my path or an encouraging word I read in the Bible. These are all gifts from God, and he delights to give his children good gifts (Matthew 7:11). He is grinning ear to ear when he sees you discover a talent for the first time or welcome a new member of the family. He is not that stern and withdrawn god we often think he is.
Here's the deal though, I'm pretty sure God is not super happy when he sees the extreme consumerism that has hit our nation. I'm also pretty sure it doesn't please him when his kids scurry around in search of that perfect gift, like myself. The reason I say this, is because when we buy into that worldly mentality, we are looking for Macy's or Pinterest to fulfill our loved one's joy- and our joy in the process. In reality, the best gifts in the world don't come from any specific store:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Yup. It's pretty simple, really. The best gifts come from God. Again, that doesn't mean that buying gifts for friends or family is a bad thing. God uses these gifts to speak love to others, just like we have probably experienced ourselves. I for one, know that it is a constant battle though. I have to continuously remind myself that searching for the "perfect gift" is a mode of control rather than a joyful trusting of God's wisdom. It's time I take my own advice and make some changes to my Christmas preparation this year:
1. Pray before you pay
Don't swipe that credit card before you pray about what you're buying. It might seem silly or too much effort, but remind yourself just how much time, dignity and effort Christ gave in his gift for us. Gift prayer also comes with a guarantee. While we will make mistakes sometimes, the better we learn to listen to God's prompting to purchase a gift or give a gift, the better gift givers we will be!
2. Think outside the box
I read this devotional the other day about gift giving, and it truly opened my eyes to how narrow-minded I've become regarding gifts. I rarely think about giving gifts of care, time, encouragement or talent-- even though these are some of the gifts I have most treasured in my own life. I encourage you to look for some Gifts that Matter, HERE and HERE.
3.Take a step back
The Grinch, Clark Griswold and Ebenezer Scrooge all had one thing in common: the realized that Christmas is not about the tangible gifts. Now, if only they could have discovered the best gift of all: Christ. I encourage you, as well as myself, to keep that in perspective when hitting the stores this season. Find God's Perfect Peace as you enjoy his gift of life. We can find great joy in giving to others with Christ's love-- whether it be through store bought gifts or gifts of a different kind-- if we avoid the consumerist perfectionism that we are so often tempted with. God has a greater purpose for this Christmas season than our own personal pride when we find that "perfect" gift. FYI: God already knew it was there. He created it!