Empty Gift


“I have a gift for you, Mommy,” said my friend’s 6-year-old daughter Estelle. Mary Hannah had noticed her daughter giving wrapped presents to each member of the family in the past few days. She wondered where all of these gifts were coming from until she opened the one Estelle had wrapped for “Mommy.” Not wanting to dampen the spirits of her daughter, she thanked Estelle for the nail polish. There was one problem, though. The nail polish belonged to Mary Hannah and had gone missing several days before. Estelle had been “borrowing” things from everyone in the family over the past year, wrapping them in pretty paper, and giving them as presents.

A 6-year-old may not understand what we as adults understand: You cannot give away what isn’t yours in the first place.

Why do I struggle to love my neighbor as God asks me to in Matthew 22:39: “‘Love your neighbor as yourself’”? Maybe I haven’t accepted God’s unconditional and never-ending love for me. (John 3:16)

Why does it seem nearly impossible to share in the joy of a friend? Maybe I haven’t let the “joy of the Lord” seep down into my soul and provide strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

Why can’t I pass on the peace my friend needs in the midst of the chaos and pain of life? Maybe I haven’t allowed the peace of Christ to rule my own heart. (Colossians 3:15)

Why is it so difficult to encourage my out-of-work friend to wait on God to provide a job? Maybe I haven’t practiced patience in waiting on God in my own circumstances. (Philippians 4:6)

Why is showing kindness to those who may be very different from me so hard? Maybe I haven’t basked in the kindness God shows me as He pours out His grace on me. (Ephesians 2:7)

Why do I struggle to share God’s goodness when others are grieving over the loss of a loved one? Maybe I haven’t recognized the lavish gift of goodness God has stored up for me. (Psalm 31:19)

Why do I fail to share God’s faithfulness with a fellow believer who is struggling with temptation? Maybe I haven’t fully relied on God’s faithfulness in my own struggle against temptation. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Why does it seem nearly impossible to extend God’s gentleness to someone who has wronged me? Maybe I haven’t understood the tenderness God shows me in His unmerited mercy and forgiveness. (Luke 1:76-79)

Why does it feel like pulling teeth to teach my children to have self-control? Maybe I haven’t submitted to God’s authority in my own life or responded to His discipline. (Hebrews 12:9-11)

A tree cannot share fruit with hungry passersby if it doesn’t first grow that fruit. Our goal as followers of Christ is to develop the fruit of the Spirit so that we can share that fruit with those who are hungry for God and His grace. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23a NLT)

Let’s give to others from the abundance we have in our own hearts.

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