The Gift that Keeps on Giving
The holiday season is upon us again, and the focus of gift-giving is underway. Retail stores are stocked from floor to ceiling with merchandise, and grocery store aisles are narrower due to the extra stacks of sugar, flour, and Christmas candies. E-mail and social media accounts are being flooded with this year’s deals while television commercials entice us to buy, buy, buy!
I often wonder what all of this looks like to a child. Does this time of year encourage our students to want more “things” and think of themselves, or does this time of year entice them to be thoughtful and give to others who are less fortunate? I think we all know the answer to these questions. Even as an adult it is easy to fall into the trap of holiday madness and lose sight of what Christmas is all about.
Christmas is really about one thing and one thing only—the gift of Jesus. Jesus is the only gift I know that is free and keeps on giving throughout our lives. The gift of Jesus isn’t limited to a holiday season. Jesus gives us so much more than the temporal items that will probably end up in a garage sale one day. Jesus freely gives freedom, forgiveness, power, love, mercy, and grace.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8
This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy1:6-7
Jesus is certainly gracious in His giving, but here is the deal about gifts. First, the gift has to be opened; second, the gift has to be used for there to be any benefit. Let’s be honest. I bet we can all think of a Christmas gift we received that was opened but never used. I can remember receiving one of those soda machines years ago. At the time it seemed pretty cool, and I told myself I would use it. Well, it has been on a high shelf in my pantry for over five years. I’m never going to enjoy the taste of a low-cal carbonated drink as long as the gift remains unopened!
When Paul encouraged Timothy to “fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave,” he was urging him to use the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift given to everyone who believes.
“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything you and remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. John 14:26-27a
While most gifts are often enjoyed solely by the recipient, the gift of Jesus is meant to be shared. We aren’t supposed to keep this gift to ourselves! From a worldly perspective it would seem impossible to give gifts to all the students we teach. However, aren’t you glad we have the opportunity to gift those around us with the fruit of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control? This gift is priceless.
One of the best things we can do for our students this school year is to “reframe” the idea of gift-giving. Let’s teach our students that every time they show kindness, they are giving a gift. Every time they choose to forgive, it is a gift. Every time they seek to help, others are receiving a gift. As Christian educators we need to model this type of gifting every day. The gift of Jesus is meant to be shared. Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving.