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The Season of Receiving

Shea Rowell
Class of 2019

(12/2017) Christmas is the season of giving. At Christmas, humanity was given the greatest gift it has ever known; that of a savior. God came down to earth. This is a gift whose value cannot be quantified. As Christians, we do our best to imitate the example of Jesus. Christians celebrate the season of Christmas by giving to others. We give gifts to our loved ones, cards to family and friends, and donations and time to charitable causes. Giving is a beautiful imitation of Jesus, and is a pure and wonderful way to celebrate the season of Christmas. Giving, however, is only half the battle.

As strange as it may seem, Christmas is also the season of receiving. While this may seem like a selfish and unchristian way to celebrate Christmas, it is vital to the Christian lifestyle. This type of receiving is different from the type that is touted in television commercials and radio advertisements. It is not about what you receiveóit is about receiving the gifts of others with grace and humility.

This is even more important in the Christmas season than giving itself. If God gave humanity the great gift of His son, the way in which we receive this gift is vitally important. While expecting the gifts of others is a form of selfishness, receiving the gifts of others is a form of selflessness, as shifts the focus onto the giver. The first step in properly receiving any gift is recognizing its valueónot only its monetary cost, but the time, consideration, and effort that went into the gift. The gift of Jesus Christ is a gift of infinite magnitude. It is Godís way of showing that He cares for usóenough to come to earth in the form of a little child. Enough to live among His creation and perform a saving mission which would cost Him His life. That kind of love and sacrifice cannot be measured. Its value does not have a dollar sign attached. It is the ultimate act of love, as valuable as life itself.

If the first step to receiving properly is recognizing the value of the gift, the second step is recognizing the value of the giver. Any gift we are given reflects kindness on the part of the giver, and his or her desire to make us feel happy and loved. Even if the gift we receive is not something we want or need, it communicates the generosity and love. Likewise, the gift of Jesus reveals the nature of God the Father to us. He was willing to give us His Son on Earth so that we might feel His love and share in His life. Jesus, likewise, was willing to be given to us. He gave us the gift of Himself. Through the sacrificial cost of this gift, we can see the true goodness and love of God.

After recognizing the value of the gift and the giver, the third step to receiving is to accept the gift. As strange as it seems, acceptance is one of the most difficult parts of receiving. Accepting the gifts of others means accepting that they have spent time, energy, and resources on you. They have decided to use their kindness to brighten your day, or to provide you with something you may want or need. A first reaction may be to say, "I appreciate the gesture, but you didnít have to do this!" This response, however, is not necessary. The giver already knows he or she was not obliged to give; giving gifts is a free act of love. Thus, accepting that love is a gift in itself. How would God react if humans responded to Christmas by saying, "thanks, but you didnít have to give me a savior. I could have gotten one for myself!" How ridiculous it would be to reject the kindness of God! When we accept the kindness of others, we give them the opportunity to share their love with us. It takes humility, but sometimes accepting the gifts of others is the greatest gift you can give them.

. Once youíve gratefully accepted the give youíve been given, the final step is to care for it. Caring for the gifts of others shows them how much you value them, their gifts and their kindness. This can be as simple as putting flowers in a vase, or wearing that new sweater in public. Gifts, however, arenít always possessions. They may come instead in the form of friendship; in other words, people give you the gift of themselves. When people give themselves as gifts instead of material things, proper care becomes even more vital. Relationships need time and attention to survive. We show our friends how much we value the gift of their friendship by spending quality time with them. During the Christmas season, Jesus gives us the gift of Himself. This gift requires special care and attention like any other. What does it mean to care for the gift of Jesus Christ?

Luckily, Jesus told us how to properly use this gift. We must follow Him. We must imitate His example of love toward God and others. We must identify our own failings and give them to Him in repentance. We must forgive generously and lovingly provide for the needs of others. In other words, receiving the gift of Jesus Christ enables us to give as Jesus did. Receiving is giving to others. When our friends and family approach us this year with carefully-wrapped packages, we must receive their kindness and love as manifestations of the goodness of the people themselves. In the same way, we must respond to the gift of Godís Son by reflecting on the true value of the gift and the pure love of the giver. Then, we can accept His gift gratefully, and allow it to guide our lives toward Him.

Merry Christmas, and God bless!

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