There are very few things in human civilization that are as universal as gift giving, almost every culture values gift giving and uses gifts to express a variety of meanings. Gifts are used to express regret and remorse, to express joy, festivity, and celebration, and perhaps most importantly a loving bond between two people. For some gifts are only really important on festive occasions like Christmas and birthdays, but, for others, gifts are a natural part of life used to communicate some of our deepest emotions. Gifts work deep into our emotional core, they are a physical reminder that the giver is thinking about the me. If I receive a gift from my wife, I am conscience of the fact she was thinking about me, I am made aware that that she is concerned about me, and that she loves me. While some of us feel these sensations more readily than others, we are all aware of such ideas.
I think gift giving is so universal because it is at the very core of God’s love for humanity- God gives us good things. Ephesians 4:7-16 talks about God’s generosity toward humanity, and how that generosity is expressly revealed in Apostles, prophets, pastors, and teachers. God has given people to fill such offices so that all people might come to know God in deeper and more profound ways. Yet, even greater than these gifts was the gift of God’s own self. One of the most beloved verses of the Bible is John 3:16 which can be summarized “God loved humanity so God gave the gift of God’s son…”. God’s loving generosity boldly exclaims to us that gift giving is a necessary part of expressing love for others. It is not a light thing when we consider God has prearranged for ways in which people might come to know God more deeply. After all, while it is wonderful for a person to show they care by getting you a present, it is even more wonderful when that person knows you well enough to get you something you both want and need. It is great when my wife gets me some little treat for me, like a candy bar, but, it is even better when she gets me my favorite tea right after I run out. It is nice when someone gives me a book “I might like”, it is better when they give me one I have been longing to read. Such a gift shows that the giver knows me and wants me to be happy the same way God has done.
With such wonderful expressions of love from God, we have to consider how we emulate God’s giving and how we respond to giving from our loved ones. First God’s gift was generous, in the person of Jesus we have the gift of God’s entire self, God held nothing back from us. Likewise, as we give to others we should not be afraid of holding back what we have, even giving ourselves to one another, gifting time, talent, and energy.
Second, going back to the Ephesians passage, we see that God’s gift of grace to each of us is timely and tailor-made for each of us. God’s grace is not a one-size-fits-all arrangement; God provides each of us exactly what we need. This implies that God knows us intimately and is ready with something to help. We should, also, be ready with tailor-made gifts to our loved ones. Gifts that show we care; yet, truly great gifts show that you know what the other needs. Gift-giving begins with investing the time to understand what the other person both wants and needs; be willing to make such an investment. What a wonderful thing that God has mad such an investment of time and concern into each of us, and how wonderful we can make such an investment in others.
God’s gifts come into daily life and not simply as annual celebrations; God does not wait for special occasions to give us gifts. God gives us gifts on a daily basis and makes the day special by providing a gift. We must be of the same mindset providing gifts to others to make their day special. If I always wait for special occasions to give gifts, those I love will grow to think that I simply give as a part of the celebration. They will fail to understand that I love them more than the holiday. Gifts should become a regular expression of love toward others.
Perhaps the simplest thing you can do for someone to show your love is to give that person a gift. A gift is a tangible memento that you have thought about the other person and want something positive for that person. It is relatively easy to buy a person a gift and a gift can be an expression of love which leads to forgivenees, reconciliation, as well as deeper intimacy.