The joy of giving

As Christmas is approaching, we are beginning to think about presents. Particularly, we are beginning to think about presents for our children. What might they like? What surprises can we get them? I really quite like it to be honest. I’m not very good at many things, but I’m told I’m pretty reasonable when it comes to present buying. I like having a think at what people might like and then trying to find something that will both surprise them, but they will enjoy.

In the hierarchy of gifts, those are the top tier, gold standard ones. Those presents you never realised you wanted until you got them, but you love it when you open it. There is then a sliding scale running through:

Second level: Great gifts that weren’t a surprise
3.1: Good gifts that surprised you
3.2: Good gifts that didn’t
Fourth: Alright gifts that were either a surprise or not. You’ll certainly use them.
Fifth tier: rubbish gifts that you don’t like but you can see the thought
Sixth level: terrible gifts that you can’t understand why anybody in their right mind thought you’d want them. If they knew anything about you, they’d not have bothered.
Finally: terrible gifts that you suspect the person knew you didn’t want and decided to get you anyway because they are passive aggressive and horrible.

But the surprising gift that you love but didn’t even realise you wanted – top tier stuff! That’s the gold standard to aim for. Can’t always get it, of course, and anything up to the fourth level is adequate passing level gift giving. But the top tier is the aim.

And I enjoy it. I especially like thinking of what my wife and children might like and working out what might surprise them best this year. I like doing it with others too. I think giving a good gift is a sign that you have listened to someone and you have taken an interest in what they like, and what they are like, and put thought into what you might get them. I might get it wrong from time to time, but I like to think people can always understand the thought behind the gift, even if it misses the mark.

And I like to think that God is often doing that with us. The Bible tells us that he loves to give his children good gifts. I like the idea that he thinks specifically both about what we might really like, as well as what we need, and he gives them to us often just because we will enjoy them. There is all sorts of things he could give us just to cover the essentials, but so often he gives us much more than that. It is like he has thought specifically about what we might like and then chooses to surprise us with it; often even when we haven’t asked him for it. That’s top level, gold standard stuff!

Whoever you happen to be buying presents for this year, as you ask yourself what might they like, maybe turn your thoughts to the Lord and how he gives freely and generously to us. I am sure that he blesses us, with great things, far more than we ask him for those things. As we aim to be good givers, let our thoughts turn to the greatest giver of all. And let it drive you to praise.