I was driving down the road listening to my local, Christian radio station. The DJ asked people to call in and share something that helps them remember the true meaning of Christmas. I listened as a caller for Pennsylvania shared about her Amish friends. One evening during a Christmas party, she was talking to one of the Amish guys and asked him how his family celebrates Christmas.
He shared with her many of his favorite family traditions and how special each one was to him. She asked if his family gave each other gifts on Christmas morning.
“Oh yes!” he said joyfully. “We love giving Christmas gifts. Each person usually receives two or three gifts per year, and it’s a wonderful time.”
“Only two or three gifts per person?” The woman asked, raising her eyebrows. “So what do you do if someone doesn’t like one of their gifts?”
Confused by her question, he looked at her puzzled.
“You know,” she continued, “what if you give someone something, and they just don’t care for it? What would you do?”
He paused for moment, then said with a big smile, “It’s a gift! Why would anybody not like a gift?”
I was instantly convicted by that simple but profound statement. He hit the nail on the head. Why would anybody not like a gift? I immediately thought of all the times I had received a generous and thoughtful gift and secretly thought, What in the world am I going to do with this? or Why would someone even think I’d want this? or I can’t wait to return this one!
Suddenly, I could see that my heart has at times been plain rotten when it comes to gifts.
Gifts We Don’t Deserve
I was challenged to view every gift I receive as a huge blessing. I don’t deserve even a single one, and the fact that my family members love me enough to spend their money on a gift for me is enough of a reason to celebrate, regardless of what’s inside the package.
Regardless of what you receive (or don’t receive) this Christmas, choose to have a grateful heart.
I was also challenged to think about the bigger story in light of the ultimate gift given to all of us that first Christmas. This time of year can be so busy that I completely lose sight of its true meaning. I can become hyper-focused on getting my list checked off that I forget to acknowledge the reason Christmas even exists! Among the hubbub of buying and receiving gifts, I forget to take time to thank God for His incredible Christmas gift—Emmanuel, God with us.
Thanks to an Amish guy that I don’t even know, my heart has been refocused this Christmas season. I want to challenge you to refocus your heart as well in two ways this Christmas:
- Regardless of what you receive (or don’t receive) this Christmas, choose to have a grateful heart. A gift is a gift and should be received with gratitude and joy.
- Set aside some time to thank God for the ultimate gift He gave in bringing a Savior to this world. Read the story of baby Jesus in Luke 1–2, and praise God for sending a Savior for you and me.
I pray your Christmas celebration is a wonderful and blessed one this year, but not because everything goes perfectly for you or you get everything on your list, but because you have a grateful heart to God for all of the blessings He has already given you.
What about you?
- Do you have true gratitude in your heart for the gifts you receive?
- Have you been focusing on Christ this Christmas, or have you been too busy checking off your list?
- What can you do to focus your heart and mind on Jesus this week?