The Christmas holiday season has long been considered the season of giving.
- Parents give toys and other gifts to their children,
- friends and coworkers buy small gifts for each other in a spirit of goodwill, and
- charitable organizations see an increase in fund raising as people are subtly guilted into being more generous and as tax accountants are encouraging clients to increase deductions before the tax year ends.
We quote sayings and scriptures like, “it is better to give than to receive,” and cry while watching heartfelt movies like Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol when Scrooge gives away his money, and comment to our kids how giving increases the heart while watching Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. All of these things are good.
In fact, in the Christian tradition, this is the time we celebrate the birth of the Christ child, often referred to as the greatest gift the world has ever known.
But yet, something has been forgotten, and something is amiss in this candy cane, Ho-Ho-Ho Santa down the chimney fairyland. Can you guess what it is?
Knowing how to receive.
Yes, that’s right. In a sense, knowing how to receive well is how we make a gift complete. When a gift is received well it brings great joy to the giver.
Think of the last gift you truly gave – one where you had the perfect idea and just could not wait to see the joy on their face when you gave it to them.
Then you hear, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly accept this,” or “you didn’t have to do that,” (I confess I did this just last week), or your gift is barely acknowledged, and your heart sinks a little bit.
It hurts, doesn’t it? Now think back to a time where maybe you reacted that way to a gift someone had given you. Ouch, right?
Now consider that God gave us the gift of His only Son, who laid down his life for our sins. Yet we tend to receive this gift poorly by promising all the things we will do for God as a way to earn this gift. But gifts are not earned. By trying to earn this gift we have in essence promised to pay for the gift, and thus spoil its true intent.
If we learn to receive well, I think we in turn understand how to truly give well. And ultimately we come to understand for ourselves just why giving is so much better than receiving: because of the joy it returns to us.
In Receiving well we allow the giver to experience the full Joy of Giving.
This Christmas season, reflect on the gifts you receive and receive them well, returning a blessing to the giver. In the same way reflect on the gift of Christ given to us, and receive Him well, giving glory to the Father.