When do you open your Christmas gifts? For our family, the tradition has been to open our Christmas gifts on Christmas morning. Since we are a pastor’s family, we’ve always had to work our gift opening around Christmas morning worship. That meant that when our kids were little they would come bounding into our room at the crack of dawn so that we could open our gifts and have some traditional Christmas breakfast before we would head to church.
In the mad dash to get the Christmas gifts open on Christmas morning (…or Christmas Eve), sometimes it’s difficult to remember the purpose of gifts. If we really admit it, we can tend to be selfish about our gifts, whether it’s what we wanted, whether it fits, whether it’s money or just a “trinket” that we’ll just end up throwing away. But there is a deeper purpose behind gifts. And there are numerous reasons for us to be appreciative of the time, thought, and effort people put into giving us gifts.
When you open your Christmas gifts this year, try to remember these 3 things:
- Someone loves you. I am a notoriously difficult person to shop for — at least that’s what my family tells me. I guess it’s because I’m picky about things, and I tend to get myself most of the things I need. I don’t deserve the time and effort they put into the gifts they give me. But I know that very fact that they have put time and effort into getting me — a very difficult gift-receiver — shows that I am loved. It feels good to be loved.
- You’re not worthy. The very nature of a gift is that it is something “undeserved.” Chances are that over the course of the past year you did something to hurt, offend, or betray the very person who is now giving you a gift. I know that I certainly don’t deserve any gifts from my wife. I have far too often been frustrated or lost my temper when she didn’t deserve any such treatment at all. Face it, even if it was a minor infraction, you don’t deserve any gifts. But a gift carries along with it offenses smoothed over and sins forgiven. For me, that’s a comforting thing to know.
- Christmas Gifts are a reflection of the Greatest Gift. There is some dispute as to the origin of gift giving at Christmas. Some say it reflects the giving of the gifts of the Wise Men. Others say the origin comes from St. Nicholas who lived in the third century and was known for helping the poor. But the origin of gift-giving doesn’t come from human beings at all. It comes from God Himself. In the very beginning God gave the gift of life itself to Adam and Eve, and subsequently to each of us. But they, and we, turned against Him through our sins of thought, word, and deed. As you open your gifts, remember that God loves you though you are not worthy. In fact, He loves you so much that He gave the gift of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, who would sacrifice Himself on a cross for every last one of your sins. The small gifts you receive this Christmas are but an infinitesimal reflection of the world’s Greatest Gift, and the Gift you have been given in the forgiveness of your sins and the assurance of eternal life.
As you open your Christmas gifts, remember that you are loved, you are unworthy, and those gifts are but a small reflection of the world’s Greatest Gift.
What does the act of gift giving bring to mind for you?