The Best Gift You Never Used
Gifts are great, aren’t they? We are given many gifts throughout our lives. Birthdays, holidays, just because. Hallmark stores are entirely devoted to this concept of gifts. On average, Americans spent about $852 each on buying Christmas gifts for others in 2020. (1) I’m sure each of us can recall a special gift we were given in our lives.
Imagine if your 16 years old, and on your birthday your parents give you a set of car keys. Yes, they have you a car! They worked hard, they saved the money, they shopped around to find you something safe, reliable, and enjoyable. Paid the registration, taxes, drove it home. All for you. And you received the care keys, you go out and look at the car, thank them profusely, and are so excited about your new car. But as time goes on, you keep borrowing your parent’s car as you did before, or your friends pick you up to go to events. Pretty soon your parents realized you are not really using this gift they worked so hard to give you, and it saddens them.
This may seem just like the story of spoiled or ungrateful teenager, and easy to dismiss. But if you think back, each on of us has received gifts that for one reason or another we just don’t use. Maybe it was that electric foot spa your co-worker gave you last year for Mother’s Day. And to be sure rest and relaxation is definitely something you could use; a mom on your feet all day, working full time, taking care of everyone. But you get home. The gift sits there in its box in the living room. Eventually someone puts in up on the shelf in the closet one day while picking up. And years goes by and it is never used.
Or perhaps it was one of those holiday food gift baskets full of little jams and cheese and crackers. Yummy things, for sure! But it was just forgotten about, and 4 weeks later the basket, now stinky and moldy, found its way into the trash bin.
So like the teenager with the car, we are all given gifts we end up not using. Maybe intentionally, but often just out of forgetfulness. We get buys. We just don’t make using it a priority.
I’ve been thinking a lot about stewardship in the Bible lately. When you are a steward of something, it isn’t actually yours. It belongs to your master or boss who entrusted it to you. Think of an office manager. She runs the office, makes sure everything is taken care of, but she does not actually own the business. Her boss does, and he has entrusted its day to day care to her.
1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (ESV) Most use this verse to reference to spiritual gifts God gives you, and using them in the context of the church and ministry to others. And while that is something we should do, I think the bible has more to say about gifts and stewardship.
Keep reading, and James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,” (ESV) which means that the good gifts and blessings we receive in this life are really from God the Father himself. Everything good that we have is from Him; our money, our opportunities, our relationships, our possessions. God loves you. He loves your dearly, like a father. Just like the father and mother that sacrificed, worked, and saved to buy their teenager a car we read about above. So often in Christian faith circles we focus on what God wants us to do for Him, and we forget to rest in the all good He has done for us.
God wants you to enjoy your life! He wants you to use the blessings he has given you. Why would he given them to you otherwise? There is a real virtue in gratitude and joy that we often overlook. It is not selfish to take time for yourself. To enjoy the good things of life, especially when you have the opportunities right in front of you to do so. We get busy. The responsibilities of life take precedent. We have others to take care of. And pretty soon we find our lives wrapped up in working, serving, caring for, most of the time, and getting burnt out.
We read about Job in the Bible, whom at the beginning and end of the story, God has given many material blessings to. And we discover that he was a virtuous man, who prayed for his family, was king to his neighbor, and sought the favor of God through is actions. And he also enjoyed his life! He was grateful to God for the blessings given to him. He understood this simple truth: abandoning the gifts you are given dishonors the gift giver.
God gives us blessings, and one way to show our praise and worship of Him is to appreciate and use those blessings He has given us. Enjoy your life. He didn’t create you just to work and labor, but to rest and have joy. Joy is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, after all. Maybe it is one we forget the most.
So take that vacation. Have that family game night. Take that RV out on a camping trip. Use the foot spa your co-worker gave you. And enjoy the blessings God has given you to enjoy. Honor Him through your joy.
(1) Roughly how much money do you think you personally will spend on Christmas gifts this year? | Statista.com https://www.statista.com/statistics/246963/christmas-spending-in-the-us-during-november/#:~:text=Average%20spending%20on%20Christmas%20gifts%20in%20the%20U.S.%201999%2D2020&text=In%202020%2C%20consumers%20in%20the,spending%20in%20the%20previous%20year.