The Best Gifts

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:13

God knew the days of television and internet, social media, Amazon, Apple and Google would arrive soon enough and play a huge role in the retail business of Christmas. Deciding on what to buy the people in your life is as simple as doing a Google search. Within days all your research will begin showing up in different sizes, shapes and colors in every "in box" you have. And, once you have decided, you no longer need to go to your favorite retail outlet unless of course you decide you want to eat out as your gifts can be shipped to your or any address of your choosing often times the next day. No need for patience any longer from waiting in those long lines at the store.

Yet, with our technology there is one thing money still can’t buy and that is love, agape love as that kind of love only comes from God above. Paul the apostle calls agape love the greatest gift of all. The reason is simple. God’s love is one way, it doesn’t give to get like much of the worlds understanding of how love works. In the world, people give love to get something back in return whereas in the case of God, love is His very nature. Everything God does He does in love, period.

Since Christmas is about Jesus shouldn’t the gifts we give be a reflection of Christ? Think about it this year as you seek to find and then give gifts to others, to anyone and everyone. To those you love and even to complete strangers give gifts this year that reflect Jesus and leave people thinking about the impact of His birth, when God took on human flesh and was born into this world.

Give gifts that help people understand what true faith is. Have you thought about giving a bible to someone who might not have one or has one in a translation they would never read as it doesn’t make sense to them? As a pastor who has presided over a few funerals in my day, I love when I hear a story of someones Legacy where they gave away bibles with the name of the recipient engraved on it and the person still has it and cherishes it. Cherish is a powerful word.

Are you aware you give away faith simply by sharing your faith in Jesus with others. "Back in the day" it was common for people to write letters at Christmas time that they mailed out (using the postal service) to family members and friends recapping the previous year and telling of God’s faithfulness. Believe it or not, people enjoy hearing “Good News” which the gospel is. Share your faith in writing to the people in your life knowing that when you do so you are planting seeds of faith and sharing a part of you.

Maybe you would consider giving the gift of hope this year. I heard an expression once that said, “I man can go 6 weeks without food, 6 days without water, 6 minutes without oxygen but he can't go 6 seconds without hope. Hope is a beautiful thing, maybe the best of things especially in troublesome times like the world is experiencing today. The Bible is a story of hope and everyone in your life could use a little more hope. Hebrews 11:1 teaches us the connection between faith and hope, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Giving the gift of hope helps people to see the hand of an invisible God in a visible world.  

Consider giving gifts that instill hope, and not just any hope but the hope of God. I recall a number of years ago my brother gave me a wooden plaque with a quote of Abraham Lincoln engraved on it. To this day every time I read it I am filled with hope. It said, “I can understand how a man can look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot perceive how a man can gaze up into the heavens and say there is no God.”

Love, the greatest gift we can give away any time of year is God’s agape love. God’s love doesn’t have to involve money, yet often times it does. Giving in love is based on need not on want. One of my favorite all time Christmas cards says this. On the cover of the card are the words, "Our Greatest Need", and below it on the front of the card it said, “If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.” When you opened the card it said on the inside, “But since our greatest need was forgiveness, God sent us a Savior.”

God’s love can take on many shapes and forms. Maybe you could give the gift of love that is made manifest in forgiveness? Is there someone in your life who hurt or offended you? Give them the best gift ever this Christmas by freely forgiving them the way Christ Jesus has forgiven you. Most children spell the word love, “TIME”. Give God’s love to people this year by spending quality, uninterrupted time with them. You can love perfect strangers with a smile, an act of kindness or by simply initiating a conversation with them with the sole purpose of letting them speak while you listen. You might be surprised by the number of people in this world who have no one to listen to them. It’s been well said, “give a person 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to speak and they will tell you their life story.” Consider giving the gift of love to a total stranger this year by asking them to share with you, “their story.” I remind our church family often there are two ways every day we can show God's love to the world around us. "Find a need and fill it, find a hurt and heal it." We can't serve everybody but everybody can serve somebody.

There are so many ways to share God’s love this Christmas. Focus on the needs of others this holiday and not only will you make someone else’s Christmas joyful. You yourself will know afresh the true meaning of Christmas that can only be known as we prefer others over ourselves. After all, it was Jesus who both demonstrated and said it best...

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.”

John 15:13


Michael Osthimer





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