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“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.” James 1:16-18 (NIV)

Every year at this time, my parents would encourage us children to write a “wish list” for Christmas. Of course, my brothers and I would be as extensive as we could, including all the newest toys and videos games recently released to the stores. We would traverse through the Sunday newspaper ads, letting our minds and imaginations run wild with the endless possibilities Christmas morning could bring. Rarely would we include the practical, like new underwear or socks. But sure enough, every year, under the colorful lights of our Christmas tree, we would find a year’s supply of new socks, underwear, and church clothes. Occasionally, there would be a handcrafted garment from a dearly loved and seasoned member of the family. As we were gently prodded to try on the garment, our faces would translate the message of gratitude while inside we wondered, “Where are the better gifts?”

As a child, I never saw the practical gift as the “better” gift. They were rarely fun, seldom unique, and certainly never exciting. When I thought of practical gifts I typically drew one of two conclusions; 1. The person who gave the gift failed to take my wants and desires into consideration, or 2. The person who gave the gift simply didn’t care about me. I wasn’t important. What I wanted didn’t matter. I was destined to receive socks and underwear no matter what my heart desired.

As a child, my heart was bound and determined to be selfish. I was concerned only with my desires, and focused on what I wanted. My heart was fixated only on me. My attitude conveyed, “It’s all about me” and in turn, I became the one who cared little about anyone else.

Truth is many of us have trouble leaving the selfish heart of a child behind when it comes to exploring the bounty God has blessed us with. We look for the bigger, the better, the shinier whatchamacallit when God is blessing us with the very best He has. James 1:16, 17 says, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above…” Every good gift [our family, friends, home, job, food on the table, transportation, the breath we take, another day of life, or fill in your own blanks] comes from God. We don’t do anything to earn it. He gives to us because He is our loving and caring Heavenly Father. Every perfect gift [His love, mercy, grace, faithfulness, joy, peace, and the list keeps going on] comes from Him too. We don’t deserve what He gives us, yet he gives to us in abundance.

Here comes the reality; God gives us good and perfect gifts so we will replicate his actions. James 1:18 continues, “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.” Giving us good and perfect gifts wasn’t to perpetuate a selfish, childish heart, but to develop a heart after His own.

This Christmas season, as you put up the Christmas tree, hang the stockings, and sip on the eggnog; consider the reality of the practical gifts God has given you. Examine your heart and ask yourself “Is my life all about me or am I a first fruit of God’s family, mimicking the master’s heart?” Which will you choose this Christmas? God Bless you and your family in the year to come.

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