We (collective we, as a nation/society we) have been Christmas shopping since October. We went out Thanksgiving Day, got up early on Black Friday and/or hit the Christmas Eve specials for one last hurrah. And now here we are: December 26th, the day after. It’s time to make those left-over ham sandwiches and take it all back. The Walmarts of the land will have an aisle or two handling nothing but returns. It’s a tradition as old gift giving itself; returning what you got in order to get what you really wanted.
I had a funny thought this morning; this may be a stretch, but hang in there. On Christmas Day we celebrate the greatest gift the world has ever known. Sure the wise men brought gifts, but the real gift was laid in the manger. It was the Son of God who brings eternal life. A gift is given not because it has to be but because the giver wants to give it away. It cannot be earned by the recipient nor forced upon him unwillingly. A true gift must be offered freely and must be accepted likewise. Remarkably there are some – in truth there are many – who do not wish to receive God’s gift.
Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. -Romans 1:22-25, ESV, emphasis added
Before Target, before Christmas itself, gift exchange is as old as gift giving itself. God’s gift was well-thought out, came from the heart, and would have been the perfect fit. Some gifts just can’t be improved upon.