I enjoy making gifts or shopping for just the right present to give for Christmas. Growing up, Mom would take us shopping, in shifts, to get presents for our siblings, Dad, friends, and the school gift exchange. With five children, this was no small task. Then Dad would take us to shop for Mom.
The best gifts were always the ones given from the heart. The year Vicki, Robin, and I were in junior high, our younger brother, who had just turned 7, wanted to get us cork grease for Christmas. Mom told him that she had pretty sweaters that he could give us, but he insisted on the cork grease. With all three of us playing the clarinet, he had heard on several occasions that we were running low or were out of cork grease and needed more. Terry finally told her that she could put the sweaters in the box, but he was giving us the cork grease for his present. In her wisdom, Mom mentioned that we might want to be really excited when we opened the gift from Terry. He was most pleased and proud of himself on Christmas because he knew he had given us the best gift…and he had because it was something we needed and it was given from the heart.
The year I was 15 was the year that Christmas giving changed for me. Through the years, Mom and Dad modeled hearts of gratitude and giving and not just at Christmas time. That year, the five of us kids decided that we were going to surprise Mom and Dad for Christmas. All five of us collected our money, and then spent hours and days making out a shopping list. That was long before the day of cell phones so we needed to know all the details, sizes, and ideas before going to the stores. Since I had my driver’s license, I would do the shopping. It is still amazing to me that we kept it all a secret.
Christmas morning arrived. We got up early so we could sneak in the living room to leave Santa for Mom and Dad. I was more excited about our parents finding their surprises than I was to see the gifts I had received. That morning all five of us kids took our turn going to the bathroom, and flushing, in hopes of waking our parents. Finally we heard Daddy say, “I think they’re ready for us to get up.” Their shock and surprise, and even Mom’s tears, were the best gifts. That was the year, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” took hold of my heart for good…for family, friends, and missions.
And God loved us so much that he gave the best heart gift of all when he sent Jesus to be our Savior.
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. I John 3:23
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. I John 4:9-10
“In everything I’ve done, I have demonstrated to you how necessary it is to work on behalf of the weak and not exploit them. You’ll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, ‘You’re far happier giving than getting.’” Acts 20:35 (The Message)