This is the time of year when the giving and receiving of gifts is at its highest.  Festive packages are exchanged with good thoughts and wishes for each person.  Even though at times we feel frustrated in the effort required in the preparation, most of us enjoy it so much that we know we will do it again next year.

Living in the affluent times we do, folks have come to realize that gifts can be more than just things we give to others who already have so much already.  Many people like to remind us that the best gift of all one can give is him/her self.  As one who has been the blessed recipient of countless gifts throughout my life, I am always touched by such reminders.

The greatest gift ever given was God’s gift of His Son (John 3:16).  Through that gift, God gave His grace to man in order for man to be saved from his sins (Eph. 2:8).  What a wonderful expression of His love and evidence of His great mercy for us (Rom. 5:6-11). So great, in fact, that we must agree with Paul’s exclamation, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15).

Having received a gift, the natural inclination for us is to want to express our appreciation and love to the giver through presenting a gift in return.  We want our gift to be something the recipient wants, can use, and will appreciate.   Jesus’ poignant comment that “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” (Acts 20:35), is a truth we have learned from our own experience.

Having received a gift from God that is beyond description, greater than anything we could have acquired ourselves, perfectly suited for each one of us, and something so desperately needed, how do we return that blessing with a gift to God from us?  After all, He has no need for anything (Acts 17:24-25; Psalm 89:11).  Just what do we get for the One who literally has everything?

The prophet Micah expressing the dilemma of the Israelites of Judah asked this question.  “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? ...Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil?  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:6-7).

What God wants is each of us.  Yet we know, when we make an honest assessment of ourselves, we aren’t all that lovely and wonderful; not much of a nice gift. But that’s what He wants.  He will fix us, clean us up, and accept us just as we are.  “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).  Let’s learn from David who extoled, “For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17). 

May we be like those ancient Macedonian Christians who “gave themselves first to the Lord” (2 Cor. 8:5).