Of all the fond holiday memories from my childhood, one that I will always remember was the yearly delivery of the Sears Christmas Wish Book. We would spend hours flipping through the pages of that catalog picking out toys, marking pages and circling all the things we just had to have. This went beyond wanting, we needed this stuff!! We’d compile our Christmas lists and then patiently wait to see what would be under the tree on Christmas morning. And so in one way or another, it continues. This time of year, almost everyone’s mind is on gifts: shopping, wrapping, giving and receiving. Working hard to find the perfect gift for everyone on our lists; making a list of the things we’d like to receive. After all, Christmas is the time of gift-giving.
The tradition of gifts is rooted, in part, in the Bible. Jesus was God’s precious gift to us. The wise men that came to visit the newborn Savior brought gifts as their act of worship to Him. Gift giving is a way of honoring others; to show people how important they are to us. It allows us to connect with others, to nurture relationships. It is an affirmation that someone is special to us and that we desire to show that fondness in a tangible way. There is great joy in giving – and receiving.
We must, however, be mindful that we can get carried away and desire too much. Psalm 23:1 says “The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need” (NLT). The NIV translation says “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing”. Stop and let that sink in a little. I have everything I need; I lack nothing. As children of God, we are cared for with the love and tenderness that a shepherd would impart over his flocks. A constant desire for ‘things’ may be masking a deep, unfulfilled longing in our lives, perhaps for self-worth or for real and meaningful relationships. But this verse reminds us: God is the only thing that we need in this life. He will provide for us, regardless of our circumstances.
David was speaking from personal experience when he wrote these words; he had seen God provide for him time and again. In the same way, when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we will never be without anything that we need in this life, whether it be physical or emotional needs. God gives in the embrace of a friend in our deepest hour of grief. He is in the heart of the anonymous giver to someone in a time of financial struggles. God is the person who walks alongside us when we are alone and struggling. He will provide. He says so in His Word and His promises are sure. So, this Christmas, enjoy your time of gift giving with those near and dear to you and remember that we are so important to God that He has given us the greatest gift ever given on this earth: Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. And He is all that we ever need.