Christmas is such a time for giving! Some people absolutely love to give gifts. Some people love to receive gifts. The rest fall somewhere in the middle. In light of the day, I have observed 4 ways people receive gifts:
Consume – some people simply tear through gifts without regard to what it is, who gave it, or where it lands. Masters of this response can open all their gifts in record time. Time trials are done over birthday parties in preparation for the BIG day. Consumers consume. Like people who do not chew their food but swallow it whole, these people are unhealthy because the givers begin to feel like there is massive ingratitude. The Innkeeper in Luke 2 had this issue. Seeing profits rather than people this man’s business problems were also socio-spiritual ones. He could not see past the “get” part.
Joy – the most fun response is joy. We see the smiles, giggles, and wide-eyed glimmers as the gifts are received and recognized. This response is fun for all involved. Even the Scrooges have a hard time not smiling. Each gift is taken and opened with enthusiasm. The paper may be ripped to shreds but there is a moment of pause as the face lights up, squeals ensue, and th.e gift cherished. The Shepherds in Luke 2 were ecstatic! They left all they had to go and see what they already believed to be true. True joy was rewarded with the experience of being some of the first to witness the greatest gift of all in Jesus.
Intrigue – these responders are positive and puzzled. They are trying to process what they just opened without being negative. These quizzical types just ask questions, but respond with faith, hope, and worship. The Magi responded in this way. They did not understand everything about the sky and stars but left it all to go and discover the truth behind the “royal king” star. Like the shepherds, they bowed the knee and worshiped the Christ child.
Criticism – opening the gifts they become angry and dark. These responders want more or different items. “Why this?” “You couldn’t do more?” “Is that all?” “Don’t you know I hate this?” Herod responded in this way. He could not see the glory of the gift. He only had hatred in his heart.
This Christmas, how will you receive the gifts of God? How will you receive the message of His love? How have you responded to His actions this past year? We cannot always see the plan behind the events that surround us. Will respond with greed, joy, faithful intrigue, or criticism? I pray that in light of national or personal tragedies that we/you have encountered this year all will see God’s love and path of peace in Jesus Christ!