I try to remind my kids that Christmas isn’t about the presents they get, but about the birth of Jesus.
Come to think of it, I spend a fair bit of time throughout the year trying to teach my kids to give and receive gifts well.
But then I run across Jesus’ words, “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (Mark 10:15).
Jesus wants us to learn from kids about receiving?
- My dad comes for a visit and almost every time a little voice shouts out, “What’d you bring me?”
- On birthdays, my wife and I stand vigilantly by, reminding them to “Read the card first,” and “Say thank you.”
- And I’m pretty certain left to their own, Christmas morning would start with squeals of joy and end with a room of tattered wrapping paper, at least one bloody lip, and the tree lying on the couch.
But before we dismiss Jesus’ words, or paper over them with sanitized images from holiday specials, take another look at how kids receive.
Kids want, they receive, it’s theirs.
What about you? When I look at myself honestly, I can see it’s frequently not so easy. I want, I receive, I . . .
- Feel a subtle embarrassment.
- Want to pay the giver back.
- Wrestle with a bit of shame about having nice things.
Recently, a group of friends gave my wife and me an incredibly thoughtful gift. Our life is very busy and they’d learned it was going to get even busier. So, they brought over a freezer full of pre-made meals. Literally, they brought us a chunk of meals inside a freezer, carried it down to our basement, and plugged it in. All before I even knew they were there.
It was beautiful. We were both moved.
Afterward, I could hardly look them in the eye. I felt the urge to figure out a way to turn their giving into an exchange I could take part in. Who am I to deserve such generosity? Or such friendship?
I would have done better to receive it like my kids.
Christmas is about a gift given. An incredibly thoughtful, generous, undeserved, can never ever (ever) pay it back gift. And the Gift Himself says we can enter His Kingdom only if we will receive it like children do.
So this Advent season, I have a new goal. I’m going to follow my kids’ lead as I walk toward the manger. And I’m going to shout out along the way, “What’d you bring me? What’d you bring me?”
Question: What else gets in the way of receiving from God and others? Leave a comment below.