Unwrapping the Gift of Christmas

Finding the perfect gift for someone in your life takes time, energy, and creativity.

It can be stressful.

A recent survey found that 37 percent of people say shopping for the right gift is the most stressful part of the holiday season.

I miss the early days of parenting when finding the right gift was easy. It didn’t matter what we picked out. My kids were more excited about all the wrapping paper and the empty boxes piled up around the living room on Christmas morning than the gifts themselves. (Confession: Sometimes, if the boxes ended up being the big hit, I would quietly return any unnoticed gifts to the store the following week.)

But those days are over.

Now, they’re older and the allure of empty boxes doesn’t have the same effect. Unfortunately for my bank account, they actually want the gifts inside. I guess growing up does that to a kid.

So now that they can appreciate a good gift, we try to find something they’ll truly love. But there is something in it for the gift-giver as well. Watching someone you love tear open a gift you specifically chose for them is thrilling.

In fact, if the box turned out to be a bigger hit than the contents, you would not only be offended, but also might wonder how the recipient was so enamored with the flash of the packaging that they missed the beauty of the gift itself.

Here’s the truth: this isn’t just a thing young kids do. As recipients of the greatest Christmas gift of all, we often find ourselves focusing on all the flash of the packaging instead of the gift within the Christmas season.

The birth of Jesus gets packaged up in traditions, parties, gadgets, trimmed in lights and busyness, and gets a big bow of delicious food laid on top. There is so much going on in this season that it’s easy to miss it. And frankly, I enjoy a lot of the packaging. Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year.

It’s fun and flashy, and it’s okay to enjoy it. But don’t miss the real gift in the midst of it all. Joyfully engage in all the stuff that comes along with Christmas, but let it only serve to enhance your focus on the most important gift of all.

Colossians 1:15-20 isn’t a typical Christmas passage because it doesn’t talk about baby Jesus in the manger. But, it is a passage that unwraps for us who this baby is and what he came to do—the real gift of Christmas.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

— Colossians 1:15-20

There is no greater Christmas gift than Jesus – Immanuel, God with us – who put on human flesh, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross to reconcile to himself all things. Don’t miss it. This is the meaning of everything we celebrate at Christmas. It’s the gift that I hope enamors my kids most of all. All the flash and fun are meant to highlight and enhance the beauty of the real gift of Christmas—that by faith in Jesus, he has made peace by the blood of his cross.

God, the giver of this precious, perfect gift, is honored when we receive and worship Jesus at Christmas. It brings him glory when all the fun traditions, parties, gadgets, lights, busyness, and food that come with this season serve to point in celebration to him, and what truly lights up the eyes of his children is the relationship that we have with Christ Jesus our Savior.


Ryan Lehtinen
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