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During the time I was a police officer there was a dispatcher who was no more than a co-worker and casual friend to me. Near Christmas time one year, I walked into the dispatch center and she lifted a package from the table next to her and gave it to me. It was a Christmas gift, and it was personal. It was not one of fifty things she had made to pass out to all her co-workers.

I was quite taken back by it, not expecting anything at all from this person, and managed to blurt out the obligatory, ‘but you didn’t have to get me a present’.

Very matter-of-factly, she countered, ‘I know I didn’t have to, Clark. I just wanted to give you something. Merry Christmas’.

Now here was a totally unexpected gift from a person with whom I had no emotional ties other than as a casual acquaintance. This told me something very clearly, that I could never be certain of in the case of a loved one or a family member giving me a gift. It told me that the one and only reason I was receiving this unexpected gift is because the person giving it to me wanted to. Of her own initiative she thought about it, procured it, wrapped it, and gave it freely, obviously expecting nothing in return.

Christians, let your faith be strengthened and your encouragement renewed today. You serve a God who, throughout the history of a fallen race, has, of His own initiative, reached out, made contact, poured out blessing, provided salvation, brought life...

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