You know the scenario: Someone you know and love, but don’t usually exchange gifts with, suddenly appears before you holding out a brightly wrapped Christmas gift. She beams with joy, because she has found the perfect thing for you. She saw it in a store, thought of you and just had to get it.
Do you receive the gift with unqualified gratitude? Or do you think, “Oh, no! I don’t have anything for her”?
My friend, Ellie, reminded me a few weeks ago that the gifts in the Christmas story were not reciprocal. In one of the Christmas parables, wise travellers brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. The Bible doesn’t go into detail about what Mary and Joseph might have said upon receiving such valuable gifts, but I don’t think it went like this:
Joseph: Mary, the wise men are on their way, and they’re all carrying something.
Mary: Carrying something? What could that be?
Joseph: I’m not sure, but one of them has something shiny. It looks like gold.
Mary: Gold! Oh, no. And I didn’t get anything for them. Do we have something in our baggage that we could wrap up quickly?
From what we can glean from the Matthew version of the Christmas parable (there are no wise men in the Luke version), Mary and Joseph received the first Christmas gift with grace and gratitude. To do otherwise would have made the whole situation awkward, and would have deprived the wise visitors of the joy of giving.
This Christmas, when someone beams with joy as he gives you that perfect something that he brought to you out of love, receive it with unqualified gratitude. Don’t deprive him of the joy of giving.