Christmas – what a special, wonderful time of the year! As a child growing up in the late 50’s and early 60’s, my older brother, younger sister and I all enjoyed the anticipation and activities of the season: decorating the Christmas tree, attending church services, looking at lights on houses, watching TV shows about Christmas and occasionally experiencing a snowy white Christmas in Kentucky. Even though my parents made a meager living, they always had gifts for us.
As I grew and matured, it occurred to me, “What can I get my parents as a gift? They have everything and I have nothing.” I had no job or source of money other than what I may have saved from my allowance or other odd jobs throughout the year. They had done everything for me, but what could I get for them? They brought me into this world, provided food, shelter, clothes, education, transportation, help when I was sick, safety, comfort and encouragement, plus the knowledge and spirit of God. How could I acknowledge their love and sacrifice? Both parents had to work to support their three children. I felt that I had nothing to offer them of monetary value to show my love and appreciation for all they had done for me.
After I accepted Christ in my teenage years, the same question occurred to me regarding my relationship with my Heavenly Father. What do I give to someone who has everything? God spoke and brought this world into existence. He created and owns everything. Yet even though each one of us has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, He still loves us, protects us, and wants only the best for us. He even allowed his son to endure a cruel death, just so that we can receive salvation and eternal life. So, as we enter this gift-giving Christmas season, consider the question, “What can we give to Almighty God both now and every day for the rest of our time on earth?”
Just as our parents would love for us to simply spend time with them, we can also honor the Lord by dwelling in His presence, meditating on His Word, praying and being attentive for His response. Spending intimate time with someone is how we get to know them best, and with God, His heart is made known through His Word. The more we read it and focus on the Scriptures we read, the more we will understand Him and develop a character that mirrors His. To know God and be fully known by Him is the richest gift to His heart – and, in turn, to ours.
Love and Respect
As teens, we likely took our parents for granted, even disrespecting them at times. As we matured, we realized how unloving and ungrateful that attitude is, and now want to make sure they know how much we love and respect them.
Similarly, we dare not take for granted the grace and mercy God has lavished upon us. The more we dwell on these blessings, the more our love for Him grows in our hearts. We begin to understand His power and majesty, responding with humility and respect. Psalm 111:10 comes alive for us: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This does not mean we are afraid of Him, but have a healthy sense of awe and reverence for Who He is.
Another gift we can give our parents and our Lord is our obedience. As children, this was required for our own health and safety, knowing our parents had our best interests at heart. As adults, obedience becomes a much more important gift we can give to God, as we know His “rules” will always lead to the best outcome for our lives. It sounds arrogant to say our obedience is a gift, but God did not create robots – he endowed us with free will. Our choice to follow and obey Him is something we can offer that will be pleasing to Him, by adhering to His precepts for our lives and by sharing His love with and serving others.
When thinking about giving a gift to God, I recall the story of Peter, John and the lame man in Acts 3: “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you.” We clearly can’t give God anything of material value – but that’s not what He wants anyway. What does he ask of us? “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God,” as stated in Micah 6:8. I think our time, love and respect, and obedience would definitely fulfill His Christmas wish list.
Guest post by Bob Burckle.
Bob Burckle is a board member of Patriot Mobile. Burckle is also the President of EEM, which has been delivering God’s Word to the people of Eastern Europe since 1961, now reaching 32 countries in 25 languages. Their 2023 Fall “Hope” fundraising campaign aims to provide 800,000 Bibles and other biblical materials in multiple languages throughout the region. Learn how you can help at: eem.org/hope.
This article originally ran in the Christian Post on Dec. 3, 2023,