I love to see the reaction when someone receives a gift they really wanted…or something they had no idea they were getting…or something you knew they loved and they had long forgotten about…or something they really needed and had no expectation of receiving. I have so many great memories of gifts given at Christmas that our children, our parents and our siblings and other friends and loved ones have just adored. One of my favorite things about Christmas…and any time of year…is not getting…but giving.
I can remember Nathan’s sister and her husband’s first Christmas as a married couple. I was trying to think of the perfect gift for her. I remembered right after they were married the previous spring that she really wanted a stool for her vanity that she had registered for but did not receive. She contemplated purchasing it with a gift card after they got back from their honeymoon but decided getting their bedding was probably a higher priority. So that Christmas I decided that would be the perfect present. She didn’t need it…but she really wanted it. Her reaction was priceless! She loved it! That is a Christmas I will never forget! I have absolutely no idea what I got that year…but I remember giving her that gift.
Have you ever had a time when you gave something to someone in need expecting nothing…and then were blessed tremendously in return by another? Almost 3 years ago we had some friends who were unexpectedly expecting their third child. They had nothing for a baby and since we thought we were most likely done having babies we offered them our travel system and other baby items we were no longer using. They were so grateful and it was wonderful to be able to help them out. Less than one month after that unexpected baby was born we found out that we were unexpectedly expecting our third child. My cousin graciously offered to give us their travel system since they were done having babies…which was even nicer than the one we gave away! Our third child, little Jackson, who is the object of many hand-me-downs had the nicest ride of all 3 Benham babies thanks to the generosity of our family. We didn’t expect to receive blessings from giving…but we ended up with something better than we even started with. God in fact provided every single need we had for our little surprise package. It gave us a new meaning to what goes around, comes around.
Our society loves to focus on “random acts of kindness” and our duty to “pay it forward”. But aren’t acts of kindness in fact intentional…regardless of who the recipient is? I don’t see kindness…or giving…as random. Just because we don’t know who the giver is? That’s OKAY! We don’t need to! But that doesn’t make it “random”. That’s what Jesus means when he says in Matthew 6:33 “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Giving and kindness is an intentional choice and we should be obedient whenever the Holy Spirit prompts us…not just because someone did something for us first and certainly not to receive any recognition. It just shows how far our society actually is from what Jesus taught. People are shocked by kindess…it makes the 6 o’clock news…it’s a phenomenon when someone pays for your fast food order and it is coined as “random” which then spurs others to give…something we should all be doing anyway which starts a trend that almost always dies off. If we were all consistently loving because God first loved us…giving because God gave to us…would it be so “random”?
How far have we come from adoring and imitating the amazing, incredible, indescribable gift that God gave us that first Christmas day? Jesus…the reason for this blessed season…is our perfect example of how to live. I am quite sure that no matter what time of year it is, no matter what the circumstances, no matter who the recipient, no matter what our reward or outcome , it is better to give of ourselves…just as He did. That is why giving is one of my favorite things!