Giving gifts can be a dangerous activity. Gifts given for the wrong reasons can bring misery instead of joy and happiness. How can this happen? How can giving someone a gift be a bad thing? It is easier than you think. Here are three examples of gift-giving that can result in a miserable Christmas.
1. Giving gifts to receive.
This type of gift giving is actually giving a gift to yourself. No, I am not talking about the present under the tree that is labeled from you to you. I am talking about the gifts you give to others because you want to be appreciated. However, when the recipient of your gift is not ecstatic you become discouraged and miserable! You spent money on something you really could not afford so that your wife would think you are wonderful. When your wife is not thrilled, you are hurt and angry. True giving is not about what makes you happy.
2. Giving gifts to earn favor.
This type of giving is more of a bribe than a gift. You want your spouse or your child or even a coworker to do something for you that they really don’t want to do. You give them an expensive gift so that you get what you want. This is commonly called a bribe. This is the gift that keeps on hurting. This sort of “gift” only breeds unhappiness and contributes to a miserable Christmas.
3. Giving gifts to atone.
This last example is when you give a gift to atone for your poor behavior. You have chosen to spend long hours at work instead of investing time in your family. Or perhaps you have become harsh in the way you speak to your children. Maybe your weekends have been consumed by football or some other personal passion. So, your solution is to give a gift to atone for your selfishness. Again, this is a gift you give to yourself. No gift can atone your lack of personal investment in those whom God has called you to love. Giving to atone for your weakness or sin will yield bitterness and disappointment.
If you give in order to gain something, anything, for yourself, then you have not followed Christ but the world. You are giving to get. Giving to yourself brings bitterness, disappointment, unnecessary debt, and a miserable Christmas.
Christ-like love is selfless love. Give to show love, to show appreciation, to show gratitude. Give gifts that bring praise to Christ, not to yourself.
This post originally appeared on Shepherd Press and was republished with permission.
Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, and he is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is a ruling elder at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.