Making the Case for Giving Gifts…

This is the first year they bought gifts with their own money.
Our kiddos,
Took their own meager stockpile and headed to the mall with my parents while my husband and I were gone this past weekend for our anniversary…
And they bought a Christmas gift for me.

And it pulled on the strands of my heart.
And I don’t even know what it is yet.
I tend to show love in service and gifts–
If I want to show you that I care about you and love you and I’m thinking about you…
That will translate into time spent on something that might help you out,
Or– on a gift that shows I know you and what you might need or like.

It got me thinking about gift-giving tonight.
And while I’m all for a simple Christmas and getting away from the trappings and focusing on the real meaning of Christmas,
Giving gifts is part of it all for me…
For us.

God is an extravagant gift-giver.
And while I completely understand the danger of falling into materialism and self-indulgence…
There’s something about a costly gift,
A gift that actually costs something.

Whether it be time, or loss, or money, or… love.

The woman who broke her perfume vial at Jesus’ feet.
God’s temple dripping with gold and incense.
The wise men who came bearing gifts fit for royalty.
Lydia’s purple, Rahab’s sash, David’s feasts, Solomon’s bride, Esther’s beauty…

All had the potential to be for good or evil.
Gifts given in love, for Him…

At a cost.

There is something to be said for love poured out.
And in this culture of self-saturated-greed,
My tendency would be to shy away from the presents.

But there is–
present power and possibility and purpose in a gift given in love…
In sacrifice.
When a need (or maybe just a…potential delight) is seen–
And fulfilled in love.

And isn’t that what He does?
Our giver of good gifts?

First He meets our need–
Rescue, redemption, salvation.

And then He also gives delights–
Beauty, joy, friendship, creation.

“Delight is the most useless of things.
It doesn’t get the house clean or the bills paid.
Useless–like rainbows. Like Beethoven’s Ninth.
Delight…It finds excuses to ooze all over the place…
It asks different questions than duty.
Duty says, ‘I should.’
Delight says, ‘I want to.’
Duty is efficient.
Delight tends to anything but…
The Bible in entirety is a love story,
a tale of unquenchable delight–
His for us,
finally ours for Him.”
~Andree Seu Peterson

It’s easy to make the case for the nitty-gritty.
For those gifts of necessity…
Like underwear and socks.
(And even then, I might find dissenters).

But to make the case for gifts of beauty?
For gifts of pure delight?
Less necessity and more pleasant-to-the-senses?

“It is because of what God says about trees that we have permission for artists as well as doctors.
“And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food” (Gen 2:9).
The merely practical man errs:
The value of things in not only in their utility,
Their beauty is as dear to God as any other function of the tree.
Art for art’s sake, to the glory of God, is born in Eden.”
~Andree Seu Peterson

I’m all for cutting back and living within our means and I know how easily we become blinded by the wrapping paper, missing the true-substance-sought-after-contents.
But there is something precious in the “Magi’s gift”
Long locks chopped.
Much given for a tangible gift of metallic beauty.

And so tonight…
I think about our little ones,
Who raided their piggy banks to buy something-that-I-know-I-will-love-because-of-its-cost.

I think of our Father’s most precious gift.
That came at such a cost.
And it shines holy light on this season of gift-giving.

May your gift-giving this season honor Him.
And point back to the giver of all good things.

“…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” ~ Matthew 7:11

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  1. I will forgo hashtags and be serious: yes,this! Thanks for putting it so beautifully. I have to agree. Recently, my birthday was extra special because my friends took time out of their busy mama schedules for me, some to surprise me at home and one to plan a whole afternoon for me. Their tangible gifts showed that they knew me. Both the small things I delight in and things very close to my heart:) XO

  2. Stopping by from Gracelaced. What a beautiful post – it fits hand-in-hand with what I posted today, too. Blessings from Croatia: A Little R & R:

  3. Love this – love giving gifts and expressing Christ’s love for our friends and family. It really means something when you give from your heart, not just from obligation.

  4. I love this, and it’s made me think. As a practical, frugal kind of person, I often miss that delight-aspect of my Christian walk. Service? Yes. Sacrifice? Sure. Delight? Too easy for me to overlook or brush off as frivolous. I appreciate this challenge, especially as we try to decide how we want to give gifts to Adia.

    • I’m with ya Aubrie… I’ve thought a lot about this over the past years.

      And for me, it has been intertwined with so many aspects of parenting, marriage, & my relationship with God.

      I sometimes have a “do-the-right-thing” personality.
      Push through, make the sacrifice, count the cost, take care of the necessities, make the wise choice, weigh out the pros and cons, be responsible…
      Good things (but not everything).

      When I really pause and consider how God our Father deals with and relates to us (to me), so much of it all is NOT duty (really none of it).
      It’s delight and overflow and love abounding, His blessings which go so far beyond just fulfilling the basics.
      Not even thinking just physical needs, but even relation-ally…to have a God who desires real relationship and intimacy and friendship? Really kind of takes my breath away if I pause long enough to truly consider it.

      (A bit off topic, and very ramble-ish, but related…because I so enjoy “talking” with you) I’ve had some heart-helpful interaction with Sally C. over the past while because I feel like I was born into life with a soul that sang for things like art and poetry and music and appreciating creation/beauty.
      But slowly…I let that joy-filled-wonder get smothered a bit. I let myself deem those things–frivolous.

      Part of that was probably a reaction to coming out a Christianity where way too much was governed by emotions and feelings.
      So I grew up in an era of Christianity wanting to cling to truth and hold strong to God’s Word–focused on obedience over emotion. Which makes sense…

      But at the cost of emotion?
      The result was a relationship with Christ that felt pretty dry and rote and cracked and…bitter. Is that what God desires?

      I think parenting has been so good for me in this area.
      We want their hearts…not outward, forced obedience. And yes, there are times, when God is absolutely honored by a willingness to obey aside from a heart-felt-response– when the feelings aren’t there, but we still obey. But I don’t want that to be the overwhelming norm for my relationship with Him. And I don’t think He does either…

      Same with marriage…times when my husband or I must simply “do the right thing” (when the feelings are lacking). That is a solid-rock-like-response to see in marriage. A foundation that should be valued. But– it would also be heart-wrenching to think that my relationship with my husband was mostly grounded in duty.

      …somehow this is all interrelated in my mind :)

      But it has come up in parenting because we definitely have one who God created with a unique delight for art and music and photography and I see everyday that my words can either squash that sense of wonder and appreciation of beauty or that I can encourage it and direct the praise toward our Creator.

      All that say, somewhere along the way…practical somehow became equated with godliness for me. But I feel like He has really changed my heart in this area…because so so SO much about God and how He chooses to deal with us…is anything BUT practical.

      Wish we would talk about this over coffee :)
      And I can’t tell you how much it encourages me to see a new-ish mama with such a love for her little one and heart for the Lord…

      • So many great thoughts here… I wish we could chat over coffee, too. Can’t wait for Heaven (or a trip to Oregon…whichever comes first! :-)).

        I think it’s so difficult to strike a balance between delight and duty. I’ve been part of churches that have swung to both extremes, and feel blessed to be at a church where both are now taught. But in my own life, it is still difficult to find balance. I think it is not an either/or but a both-and. It reminds me of the verses that say that God’s commands are not burdensome, and that a Christian’s delight is in God’s law. There are commands, and they must be followed, but when we have God’s Spirit, obedience IS our delight. Which is cause for us to praise and love God all the more, for only a very loving God would design us to find our greatest joy and fulfillment in serving Him.

        Thanks for always giving such wise insight and Biblical truth here. I always appreciate you!

  5. Gina Smith says:

    Excellent and inspiring! Thank you!

  6. Well said. There is something in the sweetness of the giving, especially when we know there was a sacrifice behind it.

  7. Hazel Moon says:

    The gift God gave to us was costly but I receive it with JOY~ Following you at Laura’s Wellspring

  8. Bam, baby. You nailed this one. Allowing them to give gifts teaches them so much…us too. Off to share this one.

  9. What lovely thoughts; I really enjoyed reading your post today. The poetry was wonderful and your thoughts heartfelt. I do give thanks for all that our creator has given us. I am sure you have received a precious gift to treasure on Christmas Morn. Of course, we all should be graterful for the greatest gift given that of our Savior Jesus Christ.

  10. You say what is on my heart so well, Kara. Giving is so much a part of it for me too. My boys have been sneaking around, creating something for each of their loved with their own hands and it leaves me breathless. My husband and I decided not to buy each other gifts a few years ago, but we exchange wishes on Christmas morning. It has been the biggest blessing of Christmas for me. (last year we sang a song of my choosing with him accompanying on guitar–a small thing, but it gave me great joy). You peg it here, my friend. Happy giving. Happy receiving of the Greatest Gift.

  11. Wonderfilled says:

    I love your words here and your quotes. I was so delighted this year to see my four boys plan gifts for each other and for my husband and me. And then to see my little five year old dancing around as I opened his little gift for me, as if it were the most exciting part of the evening, just warmed my heart. Suzanna

  12. Deb Anderson Weaver says:

    Yes, I want to be an extravagant giver in life–especially of myself, of joy, of encouragement. My children (adults now) also find such joy in giving. Sounds like you’re modeling it for them!

    Deb Weaver

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