When I was younger, the exciting times in life were when I looked forward to receiving presents. Birthday gifts, Christmas parcels, and various “oh-I-like-that-right-there-can-you-buy-for-me” purchases marked little landmark moments in my past. And my parents, being generous and wise people, bestowed upon me many blessings and withheld from me those that they deemed unnecessary or unwise. Not that I realized or appreciated that at the time, but that doesn’t take away from their kindness towards me.
As I grew older, those gifts started fading in their brilliance and appeal. Oh to be sure, I still enjoy receiving gifts very much, especially if someone has put their time, effort, or thought into it. But now it is more the giver rather than the gift that thrills my heart so.
And so, with this realization (only by God’s grace!), I have come to realize as He reveals in many places throughout His Word:
‘Tis folly to be presents-oriented, but ’tis wise to be Presence-oriented.
How utterly foolish it is to focus so much on the things of this world that we forsake the One who gives all so abundantly in His wisdom! To grovel in order to advance at work, to work tirelessly for delights to one’s blinded eyes, to dream of fulfillment in achieving something that flies away latest at death – that is no bueno, my friend.
What has God commanded us to do? First and foremost to love Him above all else. Second, to love others as we love ourselves. And what better way is there to love someone (in the true sense of the word) than to share with them and pursue them with the saving knowledge of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection? Truly, our Lord and Master has commanded it. Those around you may not see it as a gift, as I did not see a boon when my parents chose to not buy me something (and it was a gift to not have received it). But the love of God is demonstrated towards us regardless of our acknowledgement or not in that while we were yet sinners, Christ humbled Himself to die in our place (paraphrased from Romans 5:8). We have the one way given to us to be able to spend an eternity with the One Who made us and all of creation for His glory!!
But truly, to love and cherish the One Who lavishly bestows these gifts, thanking Him for undeserved blessings but ultimately seeing how they all point back to Him and His glory – that is wisdom.
To obey not out of a grumbling heart, but out of a thankful heart knowing that God knows our utter wretchedness and chose to save us from ourselves for His glory – that is wisdom.
To fight the good fight of faith, abiding in Christ so we can shine brightly as God is working in us to be more like the image of His Son – that is wisdom.
To strive to serve as our Lord and Master served – that is wisdom.
To have confidence not in ourselves, but for our confidence to wholly rest in God – that is wisdom.
To not be content with where we are knowing that we will one day be in our heavenly home and our purpose in this fleeting life is but to obey the commands of our Master, but to be utterly content in all things trusting in our Father’s wisdom – that is wisdom.
To be able to say when what we have been given has been stripped from us, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” That is where true joy may be and can only be found.
Not in objects, not in people, not in circumstances.
Only the Giver.
To Him be all glory, honor, and praise.
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside.
I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.