Out of Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages, GIFTS is probably my least important. I admire my friends and family members who easily assess another person’s needs and passions and cheerfully share their resources. Don’t get me wrong—receiving a well thought out gift warms my heart, and I can be generous when I see a need, but choosing the right gift for someone (especially at Christmas) feels more like a chore, fraught with emotional baggage. In fact, many years ago I relinquished this task to my husband who happens to enjoy the process. It’s his gift to me that meets my primary love language: Acts of Service.

Here’s what goes on in my head when I give a gift:

  • How many stores do I have to visit?*
  • I can’t decide what to get.
  • What can I afford?
  • What if they don’t like it?
  • Is this just adding to their clutter?
  • Do they really need it?
  • Will they be disappointed with my choice?
  • Could this resource be used better elsewhere?

Or when I’m given a gift:

  • How do I receive it graciously if I don’t care for it?
  • Am I expressing enough gratitude if I do?
  • Is reciprocation expected?

I’ve asked for the same thing (nothing!) for Christmas for the past umpteen years, but no one will listen. At the very least, I like things that get used up and don’t clutter my space, and I’d rather use those resources for someone in need. My favorite was when a daughter gave the gift of a goat in my name to a needy boy in Africa.

I’ve come to realize, however, that my dismissal of others’ gifts robs them of the joy of giving. Just because I feel angst over the process does not mean they do. I’ve also learned to follow my mother’s model of expectation: “Let me have the pleasure of giving this to you. What you do with it does not concern me. It’s yours to do with as you wish. This frees you from of the guilt of tossing or regifting.”

And so, I began the year by working through my emotions and false beliefs over this subject. Next, I set a monetary goal for how much I would spend this year in gift-giving. I’m not a shopper, but if I saw an item that might interest a friend or family member, I made the purchase and then gave it at a random time. I found more pleasure in this exercise than the obligatory birthday and Christmas events.

At first I kept a record of my gifts, but midway through the year, I began to lose interest in the tally and forgot about it. I’d met my goal, but I didn’t need to stop the habit of trying to make people smile.

And then Christmas 2022 happened. With no more triggers holding me back, I delighted in each gift received, and I’m already thinking about what to give next year!

What’s your least important love language and why?

*I think the greatest invention is the Wish List on Amazon. Even I can pull that one off without too much effort!

First Fruits

God evaluates my generosity by what I keep, not by what I give away. (Pastor Allen Jackson, WOC)

Back in fresh-organic-fruits-basket_1426-486.jpg2007, our church was beginning a capital stewardship campaign. After much prayer and asking God to unify Scott’s and my hearts, we each came up with the same amount to give. It felt very ambitious for us, but we trusted that God was able to help us fulfill our commitment. Next we had to decide how much to give in that morning’s offering. Scott suggested 10% of our pledge—the first fruits of our promise. Gulp. There went the money we’d been setting aside for our daughter’s wedding reception. But, in faith, we obeyed.

Journal 2007. I’d like to suggest to God how He can replace those funds for us, but I think He’ll figure out how to care for our needs without my help! And, so dear Father, in faith I write our check this morning with open hand and heart and trust You to bless it and multiply it and use it for Your kingdom.

I recall years ago when God asked Scott and me to give Him our roof-repair funds that we’d been saving up. It wasn’t until after we obeyed God’s prompting that Scott’s aunt offered to pay for a new roof for us. That experience was a faith-builder.

On the way to church this morning, I laughed out loud as I tuned into Irwin Lutzer’s sermon that began with, “Today I’d like to talk to you about giving a sacrifice to God that seems extraordinary.” It felt like God’s handprint of blessing on our decision. God’s timing is delightful.

Fast forward three months. I know God was smiling as He gifted us with in-laws who asked for the privilege of providing a reception for Cindy’s wedding.

It really is a waste of time to wrestle with God. When He says, DO or GIVE or GO, it’s much more productive to simply obey and move on and leave the results to Him. It’s like storing up treasure in heaven. I want as much in that heavenly bank as I can put into it for my retirement from this earth.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.