Summary: This speaks of spiritual gifts and the privilege of using them rather than comparing them with others, wanting someone else's gifts, or choosing not to use them.
How many of you ever get gifts? Do you open them? Weird question! Right? Of course we open gifts we receive. Who would leave gifts unopened? Hopefully we all get some really neat gifts from time to time, but I’ll guess, some of you get gifts that aren’t “all that.” Right?
Does anyone ever feel, like me though, a bit awkward during gift openings, whether it be Christmas, bridal or baby showers, birthdays? Sometimes I feel a little nervous, like at Christmas, when we open gifts. I wonder if everyone will like what I got them, if I “evened” things out enough, if I got them enough, if they’ll wear or use it or get home and shove it in the closet, if I should of just given them a gift card, or if I gave them a gift card, should I have not done that. Or I see them open other people’s gifts, see the joy on their faces and think, “Ah, I should have gotten them something different. They are going to hate what I got them.”
Then there’s “kids opening gifts”. That can be very awkward. Our children teach their children good and proper etiquette, including gratefulness for gifts, but I’ve got to tell you, kids don’t or can’t fake it! When our grandchildren open their gifts at Christmas, we all KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt what their favorite gifts are because the other gift gets tossed aside. In fact, if we don’t slow them down, they rifle through presents pretty quick until they get the “one” that makes their eyes light up. Sure! They’re good at politely saying, “Thank you” for every gift, giving us hugs and kisses in appreciation, but the utter joy over gifts they really love is unmistakable.
Did you know there are gift etiquette experts out there to help us adults navigate the whole gift giving and receiving extravaganza? I figure they are there to help us fake it, you know, hide our true feelings, about certain gifts because though receiving gifts is wonderful it can also put us in a predicament in certain situations. Like if we receive a gift from someone we didn’t expect, or if a gift is way better than what was given, or if the gift is just totally wrong for us. The goal they say is to stay even keel; don’t get overenthusiastic about gifts we love, or be under enthusiastic for gifts we don’t love. Just smile and say “thank you” for every gift, great or lousy. That way, if a gift feels “wrong” like say, a gym membership when you’re a tad overweight, a gift certificate for a hairdresser because you have a mullet, a cooking class coupon from your husband who is always saying, “let’s just go out tonight”, you won’t blow the relationship by your reaction.
There’s also that awkward moment when you open a gift and either don’t know what it is or wonder, “What were they thinking?” That happened to our seven-year-old granddaughter at a gift exchange at school. I asked what she got. She said, “Buma, we ran out of time so I didn’t get to pick a different gift.” “Why did you want a different one?” “Well, I opened my present and I didn’t know what it was. So I wanted to trade it but we didn’t have time.” “Where’s the gift. Maybe I can help you figure out what it is and what to do with it.” She said, “Oh, it’s in the car. But nobody knows what it is.”
She might have been thinking, “What were they thinking?”
Okay…all this talk about gifts has a purpose! It’s because every one of you has gifts, given to you by God. I am 100% sure of that because when you received Jesus as Lord, you got one or more! Now, some of you have opened your gifts, some haven’t. Some of you who have opened them, like and use what He has given you, while some of you aren’t too sure. Some of you feel a little awkward with the gifts and wonder what God was thinking when He handed them out. Some of you are very thankful for the gifts but have put them aside in lieu of other things you’d rather do. Or some of you think you’re too old or too irrelevant to use His gifts anymore. And some of you see the gifts others have and would like to trade yours in for theirs.
Turns out we have our own gift expert and He wants us to know about the gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:1"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:” Ignorance just means, “we’re in the dark” or “not in the know” about something. God doesn’t want us to be uninformed. Spiritual gifts are divine abilities given to us by God’s own design and grace. They’re to be used for the common good of the body of Christ. If we don’t unwrap, open, and use these gifts, if we don’t know what they are once we’ve opened them, if we aren’t sure how or where to use them, the whole body suffers.