Jump Start # 2003
James 1:17 “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above; coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.”
The day after Christmas. Two prevailing thoughts fill the air. First, “what did you get?” That’s asked by kids as well as adults. It’s an inventory of the presents we received. Second, there is an inner feeling that some have because they did not get what they wanted. That perfect gift wasn’t under the tree and now, a day later, they feel disappointed.
Buying presents for others can be hard. For young children, they want everything. Then for parents, they have everything. A person can feel unsure what to get. Here are some simple reminders as we put out bags of wrapping paper in the trash and put everything away.
First, the measure of our love isn’t based upon a gift. Why bankrupt the farm to buy something to prove that you love someone. Love isn’t expressed that way. It may have worked this year. Now, what will you do for next year? Our love is expressed by the way we talk to one another. It’s shown by time spent. I saw that with a couple of the grandkids this weekend. After the presents were opened, they seemed to have more fun chasing me with the empty tubes from wrapping paper. They giggled and ran and played and were determined to destroy the giant (that was me). Love is time. Love is care. Love is laughter. Love is concern. Anyone with enough money can buy a gift, only you can give your heart. That’s love.
Second, there can be a lot of pressure upon the young married man to find that perfect gift for his young wife. He wants to make her happy. He stresses over trying to find just the right gift. The radio blasts ads from competing jewelry stores about getting her a diamond. Those thoughts dance through his head. He visits one of those stores and leaves with a nauseating feeling in his stomach at the price that is required to purchase such a diamond. He feels that if he does not deliver he will fail her. So much pressure. The giving of a gift ought to be fun. It is more blessed to give, the Lord said.
Third, we have in our minds that the gifts that we give will be immortal. They will always remember them. Most of us can’t remember what we received a couple of years ago. Some are hard pressed to remember what they received last year. A gift is a moment. Some gifts, like a puppy, are still around and we are reminded of that, but the clothes, the electronics, the movies, the candy, they tend to be forgotten after a while. There will be other gifts—birthdays, anniversaries—gifts tend to blend together and they don’t stand out nor are remembered as we hoped that they would be.
With all that comes our verse today. Every good thing, every perfect gift, comes from above. They do not come wrapped up and placed underneath a Christmas tree. Many of those gifts are so common that we do not think about them. It’s easy to not even consider them gifts. It’s something that we tend to expect. We went to bed last night, fully intending to wake up today. Most went to bed intending to wake up feeling well today. And, we have. We just assume that, expect that, and don’t think much about that. Those are gifts.
The gift of a sound mind. We take that for granted. The gift of friendships and family. The gifts of hope, love and a future with God, those all come through Jesus Christ. The gift of the Bible, God’s wonderful will and word, so clear, so convincing, so needful and so helpful. The gift of fellowship with God’s people. To be loved, accepted and even wanted by others, what an enormous joy that is. The gift of our abilities and talents. The gift of encouragement. The gift of preaching. The gift of leading. The gift of serving. All of those touch the lives of others and makes powerful differences in their lives.
Jesus told the disciples that God knows what we need even before we ask Him. He knows that we need salvation. He knows that we need daily substance to live. He knows that we need fellowship. He knows that we need direction. He knows that we need forgiveness. He knows that we need Him. And, that is the greatest gift of all, the fellowship and presence of God.
He doesn’t hide and we have to try to find Him. He doesn’t declare, “figure things out on your own.” We couldn’t do that. He’s there. He’s the shepherd that goes looking for the one lost sheep. He’s the person who swept the house looking for the one lost coin. He’s the father who runs out to greet his returning prodigal. Seek, Jesus said, and you will find. Knock and it will be opened. The greatest gift is the presence of God in our lives. He loves you. He loves you even when you haven’t thought about Him in a while. He loves you even when you have hurt Him. He loves you when you are not very loveable. He loves you. And, He has sent the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ to redeem you and save you.
Good and perfect gifts—they come from God. They are just what we need. They come often. They come because God loves you. In this season of giving, let us not think, “I didn’t get what I wanted,” when we got exactly what we needed. And, let us not become ungrateful nor fail to express to God our thanks for all that He has done for us. Wrapped up in all these wonderful gifts from God is His patience. He waits for us. He is patient toward us. Some of us are slow at coming around to Him. Some of us do not seem to be in a hurry to get on board with God. He’s patient. Change takes time. We are being shaped, changed and becoming what He wants.
God is always thinking of you. God is giving to you. God’s gifts do not come just at a certain season of the year. They come all the time. We are truly blessed!
God has been and continues to be, good to us.