Is it just me, or is present shopping harder each year? Without fail, my family asks for my Christmas request list. And, I diligently pay attention (at the last minute, mind you) for things they say and do to get ideas for them. It’s hard knowing either way: me or them. I find myself at the mall or surfing online merchants looking for that perfect gift. Eventually I find what the perfect thing! “She’s gonna love this” or “he doesn’t even know he wants this one” I think to myself.
Of course, when the big day comes, and we are all gathered to open our goodies – I get a surprise. They offer a puzzled look at the gift – hold it up, maybe even twist it around to see it from all angles. Finally, they offer a very polite and gracious thank-you.
Another common scenario: I notice the gift goes unused quickly – in just a few short days or weeks it is in the closet collecting dust.
Hmm, maybe that wasn’t such a hit after all. I wonder “who was I really buying this for?” Perhaps it was bought because of my interest in the gift – or their expected response.
Was choice motivated for them, or for me?
Jesus reminds us that material possessions are temporary and subject to decay or loss; instead we are invited to enjoy things where they can be permanent: in heaven with God. Spending time with your family, investing yourself emotionally goes a long way to building their character, and yours. Taking time alone with God also leads to lasting change. There is really no magic to it: talk to Jesus as you would anyone else – tell him about your day and ask for his help with the next.
The best things in life aren’t things!
Now don’t take this as an excuse to buy your kids socks for Christmas or telling your spouse that you’re skipping their purchase all together to avoid frivolity – “in the name of Jesus!” But, do use this as an opportunity to model something different. Purchase gifts that are heartfelt, useful and inspire growth. Even a new bicycle can develop motor skills and encourage exercise. Teaching a young person how to ride it develops relationships, creating a lasting bond. Or, consider gifts of experiences: museum or zoo memberships for example. They offer learning as well as quality time as a family.
The best gift one can offer is showing the way to a great relationship with God.Model this behavior and those watching will follow.