Here in the United States, the Christmas shopping season has arrived. Yesterday, “black Friday”, was the unofficial start — a day when multitudes of people stand in lines at stores through the night for the chance to find the “perfect gift” at the “perfect price”. Many times, the rudeness level of America skyrockets on this day as patience grows thin and tempers flare among people striving to obtain satisfaction by finding the ultimate bargain before someone else beats them to it.
I think it would be amazing to follow the life of a few of these perfect gifts over the next year. I wonder how many of them will bring the life-changing satisfaction that the purchaser anticipates? How long the joy will remain in the life of the gift recipient? Will the excitement of something new outlast the credit card debt required to obtain it? How many lives will be truly transformed because of the perfect gift found for them on “black Friday”?
I didn’t participate in the shopping frenzy yesterday. I did make it to the local Menard’s to look at bathroom medicine cabinets, but there wasn’t anything I needed badly enough to make me wait among the crowd of people lined up to check out. No, my day was spent at home with family — my immediate family and members of the extended family that stopped by throughout the day. It was a joy to see the little ones playing with a box of old toys. Nothing fancy in it; just a few cars, a truck, tractor, some blocks, and other “old-fashioned” toys. Yet even those “simple” toys weren’t necessary as the play turned to the box itself and then to some plastic containers from the cupboard.
The perfect gift? It was here! The peace, joy, and contentment found among family who love one another and have no need to “one-up” anyone. The pleasure of sharing a meal and the simplicity of spending time together with this family will not lose its luster like the expensive gifts being bought and sold in the stores. The work that it takes to maintain the relationships is worth the value of the gift that it is.
As you think about the gifts you want to give and the gifts you want to receive this Christmas, meditate on these words from James 1:16-18:
“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”
This Christmas season, don’t be deceived by the glitter and sparkle of the advertising industry. Don’t expect to find the perfect gift on the shelf of any store — it won’t be there. You may find some nice things, but they won’t be the “good and perfect gifts” that the Father really wants for you to have. The things you give and receive may complement the true gift, but they will never match it. It is so easy to be deceived about what we need, what we have to have, what we must give, that we miss the gift of Jesus. The Father’s choosing to give us birth through the word of truth — through Jesus — is the greatest gift of all.
May you and I recognize the truth that “every good and perfect gift is from above”. May we do more than recognize that truth, may we reflect it in the things we do and say. May we constantly thank God for the good and perfect gifts that only He can provide. May we keep the things of this world in proper perspective as we acknowledge God’s gift this Christmas season and each day that we live.