Thursday, December 20, 2007

Accepting Gifts

Do you find it easy to receive gifts, without feeling a need to reciprocate?

With the exception of children, I'm not sure many people do. I know that it's hard for me to accept a gift without feeling a sense of indebtedness. But the purpose of a gift is that it is freely given, without expectation of receiving in return. At least, that's what it's supposed to be.

Our staff exchanges Christmas gifts every year. This year we decided to break tradition and make donations to our Christmas service project in lieu of giving gifts.

However, there were a few staff members who decided to give gifts anyway, in addition to making donations. Most of us on the receiving end have been scrambling to find last-minute gifts to give in return. Thankfully, I have a small stash of extra gifts set aside for those unexpected gift giving occasions such as this.

I know that the gift-givers did not give with an expectation to get something in return, but I think it's part of our mentality to want to make things even and not feel indebted to someone. Perhaps that's why it's hard to accept God's gifts so freely sometimes. We feel like we owe something to God--and certainly, we owe our lives to Him. But no amount of giving can come close to repaying Him for what He's given and is giving to us.

Somehow, in the hustle and bustle and self-imposed pressure to buy presents, I think we've lost sight of the true reason for gifts. So often we see gift-giving as a burden rather than a way to bless others. And if we start to feel like we have to repay God out of a sense of duty, we can become resentful and feel burdened about Him as well.

I want to be more open to gratefully accepting the gifts that God gives me. I want to recognize those gifts more clearly, as they are often packaged in unexpected ways. And I want to give back to God, not out of a sense of obligation, but out of love and appreciation for what He's given me.

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