THE PARABLE TOLD
A father came home with arms full of presents for his children. The children greedily grabbed the gifts and tore into them, not even noticing the beautiful wrapping paper, ribbons and bows nor the obvious effort their father took in making these presents beautiful for them. They didn’t care about that. They wanted what was inside. They were very pleased with their gifts, each exclaiming that their’s was better than the others. This happened regularly. Whenever father came home, he always had wonderful presents for his children. However, over time it was apparent that the children cared more for the presents than they did for their father, and while father enjoyed giving these gifts to his children and seeing their happy faces, something made him sad.
He noticed that each time he brought them something new, the previous gifts were despised and tossed aside, even though there was nothing wrong with them; the children grew to expect that each new gift father gives them will be bigger and brighter and somehow better than what they got before. No matter how generous father’s presents were, the children were never truly satisfied.
One day he decided to do something different. When he arrived home he greeted his children with open arms. Unfortunately, all the children saw were his empty hands. He called each one by name and offered his embrace, but the only response was sneers and snorts of disdain and disappointment. The eldest asked indignantly, “Where are our presents?”
Father responded, “Well, because I truly wanted to show you my love, I decided not to come today with presents, but to offer you my presence.”
THE PARABLE EXPLAINED
What is more valuable? The gift, or the person who gives the gift? Gift giving is one of the familiar love languages, albeit one that is probably often misunderstood as materialistic. It’s not. One who is fluent in the language of gift giving strives to communicate love through giving a present to declare, “I remembered you today, and I wanted to honor you by giving you something that would bless you and give you pleasure. I saw this and thought of you, and I hope that this gift will remind you that you are loved and deeply cared for.” And giving gifts is one way that God demonstrates His love for His children.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in Him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed.” John 3:16
“Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father who made the heavenly lights; with him there is neither variation nor darkness caused by turning.” James 1:17
God never regrets the gifts He gave, even when they are misused, misunderstood and despised. He doesn’t regret what He gave even when His children are unthankful and greedily seek after more of His presents than they do of His presence.
On the contrary, I think of Moses who had the opportunity to take the children of Israel into the Promised Land; however, God told him that because of their sin He would not go with them. Moses refused to go. He would not receive God’s gift without His presence. I also think of the ten lepers Jesus healed. It was as they were on their way that they discovered that the leprosy was gone. Only one returned to Jesus to thank Him.
I am very grateful for the gifts He gave me. I am thankful for the gift of speaking in tongues, prophesy, words of knowledge, healing, miracles, and everything God pours out from Heaven. However, I want to be careful that I don’t place more value on these gifts than they are worth and unwittingly fall into the sin of idolatry. I want to be sure that I am seeking to know God first and foremost. All He gives are a wonderful byproduct as He is the greatest Gift Giver. The purpose for His gifts is to demonstrate His love, to show that we are valuable to Him, and to ultimately develop relationship with us. Throughout the Bible I read about the cry of His heart, “that My people would know me.”
“For now we see obscurely in a mirror, but then it will be face to face. Now I know partly; then I will know fully, just as God has fully known me.” 1 Corinthians 13:12
Father of lights, Who brings all things to light, leaving nothing obscure or hidden, but Who delights in revealing truth. Thank You first of all for giving Your beloved Son to die for me so that I may live the life You intended. Thank You for Your generous provision that sustains me. Thank You for the ways You reveal Yourself to me and interact with me. Thank You that You are near and alive and always speaking to me, always revealing Your heart in wonderful ways. Thank You for the gifts You gave in the past. I do not toss them aside for the new, for I treasure the past ways You showed Your love to me through the gifts of the Spirit. Each gift is precious and useful and builds on one another. The gifts You gave before are but the building blocks for the gifts You give now. I sincerely thank You for the gift of grace that has brought me farther than I ever thought I could go and proved to me that I am stronger than I know. Thank You for Your mercy that gently guides me along the path of life, encouraging me to keep moving forward. Thank You for strength and healing so I can climb mountains and leap over walls. Thank You, above all, for Your presence.