To fully appreciate a gift, we need to understand the sacrifice of the giver. Likewise, to fully appreciate provision, we need to understand our need.
If you ever receive a gift from me, you may not know it is from me. There is nothing noble here. It’s because I don’t ever think to put a card with it. In fact, at Christmas time I just write on the package with a Sharpie. I also don’t always wrap the present. It may just come wrapped up in a paper bag. I will try to put some tissue paper around it, but I make no guarantees.
This is because I am not a good gift giver. I think about it too late, and as all of you out there who love gifts know, the most important part of the gift is the planning involved. When a lot of thought has been put into a gift, it really is the thought that counts.
I also have come to realize that I need to work on gift receiving. In fact, I recently gave my mother-in-law an apology for my behavior in the past. See, gift giving is high on her love language scale (whereas it is my lowest), and it finally dawned on me that all the things I just brushed aside was her saying that she loves me! Yep, I was jerk. She graciously accepted my apology and said that we only know what we know at the time.
In this season of gift giving, we need to know how to show our appreciation. Some gifts have required sacrifice, and some gifts provide provision. We can appreciate both the diamond earrings and the skillet, even though they are very different kinds of gifts. A gift does not always require sacrifice, just as a gift is not always something we need.
The first Valentines Day my not-yet-husband and I celebrated was not one of his better moments. Or, at least this is how we tell the story. That year (our first year) he gave me a skillet. Not so romantic, right? But truth be told, it was a very thoughtful gift. I had just recently moved into my own home, and I did not have big skillet. Or much of anything, really. The skillet was full of spices, and herbs, and things to stock my shelves. He saw that I had a need, and he wanted to provide for it. We used that skillet for nearly 13 years!
We all have a need. It’s not for more money, or a nicer car, or a new position. Our need is for a Savior. Before we can truly appreciate the gift of provision offered, we have to see how desperate our need is. Without a Savior, we are dead. That’s a pretty big need.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins… But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us… made us alive together with Christ.
Ephesians 2:1, 4-5, ESV
I am the most despicable person I know. I can say this, because I only know my own heart. And let me tell you, I can be pretty awful in my thoughts. When I was a new mom, and hormonal, and exhausted, I saw who I was without a facade. I was not able to put up the nice-southern-girl front. Thankfully, I was able to see myself that in that way. Never have I forgotten how great my need was. I often would sing the hymn, “I need Thee, oh, I need Thee; every hour I need Thee.” My life was definitely hour-by-hour during that season.
Because I am able to see my need, I can appreciate the gift of provision. For both my Savior, and the skillet.
Now, the part of the skillet story that usually gets left out, is that my not-yet-husband also wrote me a poem. It was sweet, and beautiful, and it was sacrificial because he was sharing a part of his heart. Over the years, my husband has written several poems for me, and has handmade many gifts. These are my favorites. I know that he could have gone to the store and purchased an item that was similar. But knowing that he takes the time to research how to make something, and then spend the time creating it, truly makes me feel special. It is the sacrifice that I appreciate.
All of us want to feel like we are worth spending time one, worth fighting for, worth sacrificing for. The beauty of this, is that it is true. God not only sent His son to provide for us, He sent His son to sacrifice for us. Only by His suffering, and taking our punishment, are we able to have this gift of being alive with Christ.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
John 3:17, ESV
Because I have this tiny glimpse of the sacrifice, I can appreciate the gift of grace given to me.
Appreciate: The Ultimate Gift
God is the ultimate gift-giver. By giving us Jesus, He demonstrated sacrifice, as well as providing for our ultimate need. The law of the old testament reveals to us our need. Only by recognizing our depravity, can we appreciate the provision. Only by recognizing the cross, can we appreciate the sacrifice.
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