By Debra Whittington
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, 15
I heard a news report on Friday afternoon about a woman who was in search of a good deal. She camped out in front of an electronics store on Thursday afternoon waiting for the store to open the next morning so she would be the first one to purchase a notebook computer. The announcer commented that he wouldn’t camp out in front of a store if they gave him the computer. Although I didn’t hear of any reports of anyone camping out in front of one of our local stores, I heard several people comment they got up early on Friday to take advantage of the early morning sales.
When my mother-in-law, Alice, was still living, we looked forward to being on hand in the stores the day after Thanksgiving when they opened bright and early. While we bought some gifts, the best gift of all was spending time together and visiting with people we knew. We always saw someone we hadn’t seen in a long time and it was fun to catch up on what was going on in his or her life. Since Alice passed away, it isn’t as fun to partake in these sales by myself.
It is difficult to not sound like a Scrooge when I say that gift-giving at Christmas has gotten way out of hand. Now, I am not saying anything against retailers because I realize they rely heavily on sales this time of the year. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy receiving gifts? What I have a problem with is the motive behind some of these gifts.
The person I have the most problem with is the person who buys gifts to impress and manipulate others. On the surface it looks like they are a generous person, but there is motive behind the gift. Their whole focus is on what is there in it for them and nothing you give them is quite good enough. Once they present their gift, they start manipulating the receiver through guilt or pressure to get back more than they gave.
Next is the person who gives a gift out of guilt. Usually this happens when they receive a gift and feel as though they must reciprocate. It is difficult for them to be on the receiving end of the gift. Some of these people feel as though they should buy a gift for someone when they really don’t want to. They buy gifts out of guilt instead of love.
Another gift-giver is the person who gets caught up in the season and buys and buys. Some of the articles purchased are for a certain person, but others are simply because they were purchased at good price. They enjoy showering presents on others until they max out their credit card. Then they spend the remainder of the year trying to pay off their debts. Among this type of giver are those who feel as though there should be a pile of presents under the tree for every person in their family. On Christmas morning, children are tearing off paper as fast as they can without paying much attention to what is inside the box. There seems to be rushes to see how fast they can open everything then toss it aside.
It seems as though few people have a handle on gift giving and gift receiving. I admire those who seem to always know that special gift for everyone they love. These are the people who not only give material gifts, but give of themselves as well. They are the ones I believe are the cheerful givers that the Apostle Paul referred to in the book of 2 Corinthians.
As we think about the gifts we are going to give and receive this holiday season, let us be always aware of the most precious Christmas gift ever given. God gave His only son, Jesus Christ the most precious gift of all. Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving throughout eternity. By accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we receive the gift of eternal life in heaven. This precious gift is the greatest gift of all, one that we don’t have to wait outside a store overnight to purchase.