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God's Gifts. Black Friday. Cyber Monday.

If you've spent hours damaging your eyesight while staring at the flickering pixels on your computer screen scanning for the best Holiday Shopping deals; you're not alone and I feel your pain. It's that time of year when we seek to quantify the love we have for others by gifting them with items sold at a discount! Just last year consumers spent $3.45 BILLION dollars on Cyber Monday alone; which by the way has now become "Cyber Week".

For some reason, anytime I hear an astronomical sum of money my mind goes to this...

Certainly there is nothing inherently wrong with hunting for a good bargain or showing a loved one you care by giving them a thoughtful gift. It's also not my intent here to remind us of the "true meaning" behind Christmas as a means of curbing consumerism. But I do think it's helpful at this time of year to reflect on what we consider to be "ours" and how in reality it is "God's".

Back when I was child [yes this is one of those stories] my elementary school hosted an annual Christmas bazaar. A great deal of effort was expended to transform our library into a gift shop where students could purchase nicknacks for family members. Each year I would dutifully ask my parents for some cash so that I could demonstrate my love by buying them gifts with their own money. As an adult I now chuckle at the now plain irony that was once hidden from my sight! On one occasion I purchased my father a baseball figurine with the script “MVP: Most Valuable Pop”. That was nearly thirty years ago and this very day it is still on his shelf.

I find a striking similarity with our heavenly Father. In one sense the talents, careers, finances, and influence that we possess are ours - be it through endowment or effort. Yet in a greater sense they are certainly our Father’s for “every good and perfect gift” comes from Him (James 1:17). When we are mindful of this reality we become free to relinquish all that is temporal so that our hearts can be set on what is eternal. In his letter to Philemon, Paul beseeches him to make a kingdom investment, laying aside what is his for the cause of Christ. Time and again we too are presented with opportunities for kingdom investment, even when those opportunities are clothed in inequity. The next time you take inventory of what is, or ought to be, yours take a moment to remind yourself of its True Source.

Christmas is fast approaching. I hope your stocking is filled with goodies and not coal. I hope your dinner table is crowded with food, family, and friends. Above all I hope you spare a moment to allow thankfulness to flood your heart with the goodness before you.

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