Sunday, December 24, 2017

What Makes a Gift?

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

Is a gift determined by the heart of the giver or the acceptance of the recipient? Our church often receives requests for help at Christmastime and I signed up to help a family who had asked for help. The lady I spoke with requested Christmas presents for her two grand kids ages 4 and 5.  They didn't want much and I was happy to help make their Christmas special.

Her humble apartment was decked out in anticipation of Christmas - with a cute "Santa Stop Here" sign that stood out among the emptiness of the other doors. A petite blond grandmother with the wrinkles and voice of someone who started smoking young met my son and me and invited us in. She quickly hid her pipe in the other room as we walked into her house.  In the apartment was a small tree with one present under it and Home Alone was playing on TV.

She was grateful for the gifts and explained that she suffered back pain from an accident in her teens. Her daughter and kids weren't there but I am hopeful that they will be blessed.  I gave her a hug and told her I would be praying for her, her daughter and her kids. After I left I had take off my sweater because the smell of smoke that wasn't tobacco was overwhelming.

On my drive home,  I struggled with feeling like a sucker.  To counteract my doubting heart, I had to dedicate all the gifts to God, hoping that the kids would get them and love them but realizing this wasn't about two kids getting a Buzz Lightyear and Imaginex toy but a lesson in God's great love for us.  I have no control over that Grandma giving those toys to her grand kids. She could easily take them back to the store and buy alcohol or use them to barter for drugs. I intended to bless their family but it is up to them if they accepted the blessing and use it for good.  Isn't that the story of God's love for all humanity. He gave his chosen people the law and his love as a blessing and they rejected it. He sent Jesus to share His love with the whole world.  Even though Jesus was the perfect gift and just what everyone needed so many people will exchange God's love for cheap fleeting thrills.  Yet God doesn't stop loving us or generously blessing us. In spite of our foolishness and unfaithful hearts, he still loves us, pursues us and lavishes us with grace.

Here's how Titus 3:5-7 explains this amazing concept, "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."

I have decided to trust that I am fulfilling my mission to love others just as God in his mercy and generosity is always giving and reaching out whether or not we are worthy or even appreciate the value of the amazing gifts He is giving us.

Have you ever given a gift that was rejected or wasted?  How did you handle that? How have you seen God's love in spite of being rejected?

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