I was the recipient of a number of great gifts this Christmas for which I am sincerely grateful. Having said that, I can honestly admit that I could go through Christmas and receive no gifts and be a very happy person. I don’t say that because I am an unusually contented man. I say it because for me, to be with family on Christmas day and watch them open their gifts with eagerness and gratitude brings me tremendous satisfaction. My regret at the conclusion of the gift-opening time is that I don’t have more gifts for them to open. I love to sit in my chair by the fireplace and watch them, being happy with them as they open each gift and then excitedly finding the next gift for each of them under the tree or in a Christmas stocking.
You may think I sound like an irresponsibly indulgent father at risk of spoiling my children by giving them everything they want and thereby contributing to the wanton materialism of American middle class families. You would be incorrect. Maybe you noticed that we don’t actually continue opening gifts because they do come to an end and soon there are no unopened gifts waiting to be opened. None of them gets everything on their Christmas wish list — I can’t afford it. In all honesty, the one being indulged is me. I love giving special gifts to my wife and to my children. I see nothing wrong with that provided I’m not spending resources I do not have or am using unwisely.
I am reminded of something Jesus said in Matthew 7:11, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?” I am not comparing myself to God. I’m just saying God loves to give to his children more than I love to give to my children. I am not a proponent of prosperity theology and think it must be insulting and grievous to the Father to see people twist these words into prayers for BMWs, gold teeth, and financial success. However, as much as I love to give to my children, I am a flawed, sinful, selfish giver. God is not. He is a greater giver than I could ever hope to be. He doesn’t waste his time with the world’s toys and trinkets. He gives the necessities until our days are done, but more than that, he gives from his own treasure house in heaven and he does so through His Son. He gives the freedom of redemption, the cleansing of forgiveness, the standing of righteousness, reconciliation to the Father, inward peace, unending joy, everlasting life, and above all, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who is the downpayment on an inheritance awaiting his children in heaven. And that’s not all, as if we’ve received everything he has to give. God never runs out of precious gifts to give. His mercies are new every morning. His grace is reloaded into our lives every day to meet the situations we face with spiritual vitality.
My sadness on Christmas day comes when I have no more presents to give because they’ve all been opened. God never runs out. He delights in watching us excitedly open the indescribable gifts he gives. God’s sadness is not in running out of gifts to give but in our under-valuing what he has purchased for us through his Son Jesus Christ.
I won’t feel guilty for wanting to indulge my family or for feeling sad when I run out of gifts to give on Christmas day. I will enjoy every minute of their smiles, laughter, and looks of appreciation during the gift-opening remembering, with the deepest gratitude, that I have a Father in heaven who does the same only infinitely better.