Gift giving has long been a subject for studies on human behavior, with virtually everyone weighing in from anthropologists to economists and psychologists to marketers and, of course, the gift recipients. Not at all surprising, gift giving is a complex and revealing part of human interaction, telling us much about both givers and receivers while often defining relationships and interactions and strengthening or weakening bonds with family and friends.
Personally, I love gift giving! Now some family members will tell you that I love shopping, but it actually isn’t the shopping that I enjoy; it’s the gift giving. Not just any gift, but the right gift. The perfect gift. The “you know it was picked out just for you” gift. Like the actual Hollywood script of the about-to-be-released Star Trek movie that I gave to my then fiancé. Or the logo that I commissioned and then had embroidered on shirts for my Sweetie. And surely the pearl earrings and manicure for a student worker about to go on her first professional interview.
Psychologists tell us that the giver often reaps the reward, experiencing deeper joy and greater happiness than the recipient. I can attest to the truth of that finding. Sometimes I can hardly wait for someone to open their gift. Like that logo and those embroidered shirts; they were intended as a Christmas gift, but I found myself giving the box to my Sweetie and begging him to open it about two weeks before Christmas. I just couldn’t wait to see his surprise and, prayerfully, the delight in his eyes. (NOTE: He did not disappoint. Smile.)
To pick out such a gift, you have to know the person and you have to care about the person.
This is the heart of our Heavenly Father. He knows us (Luke 12:7, Matthew 10:30 ESV); He loves us (Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:16, John 3:16), and as Mark Batterson writes, “He can hardly wait to keep His promises. He can hardly wait to perform His word. He can hardly wait to answer our prayers. And, when we simply take Him at His word, He can hardly contain His joy!” Our Father gives us good and perfect gifts (James 1:17 ESV), including wisdom (James 1:5 ESV), salvation (Ephesians 2:8 ESV) and eternal life (Romans 6:23 ESV).
Isaiah 11:2-3 (CEB) identifies seven different spirits or gifts: “The Lord’s spirit will rest upon him, a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of planning and strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord. He will delight in fearing the Lord. He won’t judge by appearances, nor decide by hearsay.” Paul identifies nine specific gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:4-10: 1)Word of Wisdom, 2) Word of Knowledge, 3) Faith, 4) Gifts of Healing, 5) Working of Miracles, 6) Prophecy 7) Discerning of Spirits, 8) Divers (or different) kinds of Tongues and 9) Interpretation of (different) Tongues.
Just as we choose gifts for our friends and family, God gives His gifts as He sees best. All we have to understand is that He withholds no good thing” from us (Psalm 84:11 NLV). He has “appointed first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, the ability to help others, leadership skills, different kinds of tongues. All aren’t apostles, are they? All aren’t prophets, are they? All aren’t teachers, are they? All don’t perform miracles, do they? All don’t have gifts of healing, do they? All don’t speak in different tongues, do they? All don’t interpret, do they? (1 Corinthians 12:28-30 CEB). The answer is, “No,” because He calls us individually and uniquely and while He gives gifts to all, He also gives special gifts to each of us based on who He has called us to be.
Sometimes our gift giving goes awry. Wrong size. Hated color. Stirred allergies. Sometimes motives aren’t pure. Occasionally things arrive broken or defective, and sometimes gifts just aren’t appreciated. God’s gifts are good. God’s gifts are perfect. God’s gifts are free. God’s gifts are eternal. But we have to claim them. The gift in the box is no good. Receiving a gift means untying the ribbon, opening the box and peeling back the tissue. How would you feel if you knew deep within that you had purchased just the right gift for a friend or family member but when you gave it to them, they simply admired the wrapping paper and the bow informing you of their intent never to open it? Where’s the joy? How can there be squeals of delight? What would be the purpose?
THIS WEEK spend time considering the unique and special gift God has for you? Every spiritual gift is a reflection of God’s nature that He planted within you. Your gift reflects God’s design and direction for your life. This is not a gift that you want to leave unwrapped! Opening it will bring you great joy and deep satisfaction. You may want to spend some time engaged with this short Bible Study: Why God Gave You Gifts found at http://www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/w/why-god-gave-you-gifts.html.