Growing up, I loved getting and giving presents at Christmas time. It was so fun to experience those moments of anticipation as you tore through the wrapping paper to reveal the surprise underneath, or watched a loved one do the same to the package you prepared. I loved the paper, the ribbon, and the bow. I loved the fact that the inside box often also had some tape on it to conceal its contents. It was all magical.
The one thing I never appreciated as a child, though, was the gift tag. You know, that little piece of paper that was labeled “To: Grandma From: Mark.” The tag was small and often got overlooked in the hurry to plow through the packaging. Because of my rush to open the presents, sometimes I would even get a package opened, then ask, “Now who was this gift from?” By discarding the tag, I missed out on the chance to fully appreciate every gift . . . as each gift is ultimately an extension of love from the gift giver.
I was thinking about this Christmas phenomena today as I read Luke 17:11-19 concerning a few lepers Jesus gave a gift to during the 33 years of His first Advent:
On the way to Jerusalem He was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered a village, He was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When He saw them He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
Of the ten lepers Jesus gave the gift of healing to, only one turned back to say thanks. In a sense, the other nine tore into the present without taking the time to read the tag. In the process they missed out on the chance to get something even more valuable than physical healing . . . spiritual blessing.
So, this Christmas as you receive many gifts under your Christmas tree, take the time to read the tags and express a hearty “Thank you” to your friend or family member who gave you the gift. At the same time, this Christmas season take a moment to think about the many gifts given to us in our lives by God Himself. The gifts of life, health, provision, relationships, skills, opportunities, etc. all are tagged “To: You From: God.” Taking the time to read this tag and return thanks is a blessing in and of itself as we see it as an expression of love from the Gift Giver Himself.