“The Wrong Gift” Part 2”
By Susanne Scheppmann
James 2:14-18, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (NIV)
Yesterday, I confessed sometimes I feel like I receive the wrong gifts. Today I need to admit that I often give the wrong gifts. For example, one year for Christmas I gave my husband a beautiful flannel shirt. He never wore it. Why? Because the design on the flannel displayed soft pastel colors. The primary color, baby pink, didn’t fit my husband’s style. What was I thinking?
The flannel shirt fiasco reminded me that I usually give gifts that I would rather receive. I still own that shirt. The fraying flannel exhibits how much I have worn the shirt I gave to my husband. I love the soft flannel pink shirt.
Another time I presented the right gift, but my timing was wrong. A barefoot homeless person trekked our neighborhood. For months, I spotted him trudging up and down a hilly street. The weather turned chilly. As Christmas approached, I wrapped up a present for him. I sent my nineteen-year-old son to present the destitute man with a ribbon and bowed package that held a fleece blanket and various fast food gift cards.
He rejected my offering. He told my son, “Tell your mother that I will not take it. I will not accept gifts that are only given because of the season of the year.”
Hmmm…I guess I need to represent Jesus all year round, in my gift giving.
So, I have decided to look for what others want and need. Moreover, to become aware of gifts I can give to others regardless of the time of year.
I still don’t always get it right, but my heart aches to give proper gifts. I want to give gifts like our Father gives to us. He gave us Jesus, His only Son, as our Savior. The Father gave sacrificially—the perfect gift at the right time.
It pleases God when we give sacrificially, too. Luke 21:1-4 is a wonderful example of the opinion of our Lord on how to give, “As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’” (NIV)
Many times our gifts will consist of giving of our money. This past year we were bombarded with worldwide disasters such as the tsunami in Asia, Hurricane Katrina and Rita and the various earthquakes around the globe. Each of these beckoned us to give of our monetary or material resources to others in need.
However, other times God may ask us to give sacrificially of our time and energy. Although it may be easier to send a check or a bag of used clothes, it pleases God when we give of ourselves as He nudges us to help others.
Consequently, I need to become more aware of what the true needs of people are throughout the year. As I approach another Christmas and a New Year, I want to give the ideal gifts to my family, my friends, and to whoever my God might lead me to give of my money, time or energy.
Will you join me in this endeavor to give the right gifts and the right time?
Father, help me to learn to give the right gifts at the right time. Open my eyes to the needs and desires of others. Instruct me how to give gifts that truly benefit and delight people. Teach me to look beyond myself and to give sacrificially as You direct me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Take a few minutes to review the gifts you have purchased for Christmas presents this year. Decide if you might have purchased the “wrong gift’ for the wrong reason. Ask God to show you how to give the best gifts this year.
Do I buy gifts I would like to receive?
How can I give sacrificially to others?
Does my gift-giving attitude last throughout the whole year?
Proverbs 18:16, “A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great.” (NIV)
2 Corinthians 8:10, “And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so.” (NIV)
2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (NIV)
© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.