Dec 2, 2007

What's a Gift Worth? - Little Brown Bag

When it comes to the gifts, the value of a gift cannot be counted by dollars and cents, because the true value of a gift can only be ascertained by what that gift means to the giver.

On Christmas morning, I will be receiving four gifts from my four little ones. As far as how we typically go about putting value on things, I suspect that the items my four children will get for me won't be worth much to pretty much to everyone else. But I will cherish every one of them. I will treasure those gifts, not because how many dollars and cents were spent on those items, but because of how much I value the love of my children.

Let me share with you a story written by Robert Fulghum. It’s called a Little Brown Bag.

One nice morning, Daddy was about to leave for the office when his five-year-old girl handed him a little brown paper bag.

“And what is this?” the Daddy asked.

“Oh, some really, really nice things! And Daddy, I want you to have them!”

Daddy, who was already running late and had to rush to the office, grabbed the little brown paper bag, put it in his attached case, then hurried to his car and drove away.

When he got to the office, Daddy opened his attached case, and there, among his important papers and documents, he found the little brown paper bag.

Daddy emptied the little brown paper bag on his desk, and saw – 2 hair clips, 3 small stones, 1 very used pencil, 1 marble, 1 small plastic dinosaur, 2 small chocolate candies, 1 used lipstick, 1 little doll, and 13 very old meaningless coins.

Daddy was amused and smiled, then he gathered everything together and threw them all in the trash.

Then he went about the important things.

At the end of the day, a day of contracts and conferences and board meetings and executive decisions, Daddy finally got home.

“Daddy,” asked his little daughter, “where is it?”

“Where is what?”
“The things I gave you. The little brown bag I gave you this morning.”

He remembered the little brown paper bag. He remembered how he had looked at the contents, and he remembered how he had thrown everything in the trash.

“Daddy, Daddy, do you have them?” asked the little girl. “Did you lose them?” “You know Daddy, I really liked all those things. They were very, very special to me. I thought they were all so beautiful. And I had been collecting them one by one. They were the most precious things in the world to me. And so I gave them all to you as my gift because I love you, Daddy.”

And the Daddy looked at the face of his little, five-year-old girl and thought of her simple world of beauty and the value of love – and of her gift of the little brown paper bag. To that five-year-old girl, these were her most prized treasures and she entrusted them to her daddy and he literally had thrown them away.

Because Advent and Christmas is all about the gift of God's Son to the world, we celebrate Christmas by the giving and receiving of gifts.

But somewhere along the line, we've forgotten why we do all this. And because we've forgotten, a holy-day has just become a holiday. And that's the reason why we get gifts for all kinds of people, but we don't even begin thinking about what God might want for Christmas. And the more we make the holy-day a holiday, we can sing about Santa and Frosty, drink our eggnog and kiss our loved ones under the mistletoe, and not even think about God's gift to the world in His Son Jesus Christ.

That's why I encourage you to think about your gift to God for Christmas this year. What do you think God might want for Christmas? What do you think you could give to God that would make His heart leap with joy?

Go ahead. Give God your gift and let God change your world.

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