"The Ultimate Christmas Gift", an image from Creative Swap.
I admit it, I suck at giving presents. It is especially obvious during Christmas time. I’ll forget. I’ll buy last minute or I constantly need to be reminded to pass someone a gift. I thank God for my wife and my mum who understands present-giving strategies. This made me think of what are sure-fire ways of gift giving that would “stick” for me. I would like to remember to give. I realised that the one way that truly works for me is if I give from the heart. Our core, where the heart is, drives our thought and our actions. If at the core, I truly want to give, then it’ll be meaningful. It will be heartfelt. It will be genuine. All other types of giving are mere formality.
As a pragmatist and minimalist, I realised this must be the reason why gift giving is not instinctive for me. I also realised that the only true and ultimate gift has already been given. And Christmas reminds us of this. Through Jesus Christ who was born on Christmas day, God has already given us what we need for all eternity. Through Jesus we can enjoy eternal salvation with God for His glory.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 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 3:16-17, ESV
So, this leads me to my top 5 gift ideas this Christmas. Since a lot of articles I read these days are ad-filled lists of things. Here is mine to share (minus the ads, and you don’t have to allow weird Facebook apps or annoyingly click next for each item)…
1. Gift of Friendship
We’re living in a sceptical information age. The age of Gen Ys and Xs. People these days are natural sceptics. Everything can be googled. We have very short attention spans. What I realise is many still crave traditional, deep, heartfelt friendships. Making friends with a stranger and showing random grace and kindness is rare these days and applauded readily. I’m not asking you to seek self-glory by making friends. Instead, what I’m suggesting is to go out and make new friends with strangers so as to form deeper relationships with them. Why? So that ultimately, you can get to point them to Jesus. The strangers don’t have to be random people from the streets. They could be your neighbour (yes! Finally! Go talk to them!). They could be even people in your own church whom you haven’t formed a friendship with. Guess what? Christians need some “pointing-to-Jesus” too. Think of someone; give them the gift of Christ-driven friendship.
2. Gift of Catching Up with Intent
We’ve been doing this consistently over the last 4 years with this one. Through Christmas, it’s a time where many would meet, eat, laugh, rest and do it over again for a few days. We might travel to another country. Our home country perhaps. To meet relatives and friends. To catch up. For us at home, every Christmas is an opportunity for Kat and I to catch up with friends who we don’t have time to catch up with through the year. I call this, “catching up with intent”. What’s our “intent”? To get to know them better. To deepen our friendship. To learn how and what to pray for with them. To ultimately point them to the greatest gift – Jesus. Yes, the intent here, again, to is to point them to Jesus. Best Christmas gift ever! Closely followed by your genuine relationship formed as you catch up.
3. Gift of Prayer
This is another awesome gift. This gift can be accompanied by all the other gifts on this list. I have since learnt over many years never to underestimate the power of prayer. God chooses to use this mechanism to communicate with us and to show us His power and Glory. And so a great gift idea would be to make a list of people you care enough about to pray for their salvation in Jesus. And pray for them! Simple, yet one of the more important gifts you can ever give!
4. Gift of Compassion
For those cash-rich and compelled to still spend some money during the festive seasons. Two ways to shop for material gifts for people besides doing the usual chocolates, hampers, toys, etc… Perhaps think about how their gift can add to God’s kingdom in some ways. What Kat and I found practical would be to give them Christian books if they are readers. Or another way is to buy a Chicken! Through organisations like TEAR Australia or Compassion, they have gift catalogues where you can buy a gift, not for someone directly, but someone in the poorer parts of the world on behalf of the person you are planning to give to. Then write a card to tell them about what you bought on their behalf. It is usually a good conversation opener for… you guessed it! … Pointing them to Jesus!
5. Gift of Faith
Lastly, this is for those of you who are not Christian or are curious and are friends or family of Christians. The greatest earthly gift you can give us this Christmas?... Is to tell us you want to know more about this Jesus. Or decide you want to become a Christian and follow Christ. This. This! Would be the best earthly gift I can ever receive. It’ll make me literally jump for joy. And you know I don’t jump…
So there you have it. My list of great gift ideas this Christmas. This is a list I can deal with. This is a list I can feel genuine about and remember to do from my core and not feel artificial. Let me know if you've used any of the gift ideas above and how it went!