1999-10-20 - Great Gifts
1 Timothy 6:17 (NLT) Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.
Have you seen the latest credit card commercial, showing a father taking some kids to a big league baseball game? The slick production shows different items and the price tags, such as the tickets for $110.00, hot dogs costing $34.00 and souvenirs totalling $150.000. Then it shows the kids laughing and having a wonderful time, as the announcer quips, "memories, priceless." It seems like a harmless commercial, but it is not telling the entire story. The ad implies that you need to spend money that you do not have, in order to create great memories. Even worse, it implies that you have to shower your kids with material gifts in order to earn their love. What the ad does not show you is the family that is drowning fast in a cesspool of debt. It does not show kids crying in their room because mom and dad are having another argument over money. It does not show the person that frantically calls me on the phone, emotionally spent because I did not appraise their house high enough for them to get the 125% loan on their home, in order to pay off their credit card debt. They don't show the grown men crying in my office, as they explain how their houses are being foreclosed.
The other day I saw the mom of a friend in the mall. She had a huge bag full of toys. "Great being a grandmother, eh?" She seemed a little embarrassed and replied, "yes, I just hope they like what I bought for them; they sure love me when I bring them gifts." Well, folks, in my book, that is pretty sad. I spent the next two weeks pondering this encounter. I kept asking myself, "what is the greatest gift I can give my kids?"
I have shaken every limb in my memory tree, trying to remember the gifts I received from my parents when I was a child. Guess what? I don't remember many of the gifts that were given to me. I remember a train set, a race car set and a spaceship toy that would not work. I remember more clearly, other gifts that were given freely, gifts that I strive to pass on to our children. Growing up in a loving, safe, secure and trusting home is a priceless gift. The gift of family traditions and togetherness can't be bought. The gift of having a solid foundation of the importance of having Christ as your Savior lasts an eternity. I was lucky to have grown up in such a home, but no, it was not always the "Waltons" around my house. We had our share of dysfunctions, but we always had our solid base of true family values to stand on.
Yesterday this idea of great gifts was forever stamped onto my heart. My 14-year-old daughter and I were returning home from buying her a new pair of shoes. As I was talking to her about giving to others, the car phone rang. It was my wife and before I hung up, I said, "I love you." Out of the corner of my eye I could see a happy grin on my daughter's face. I looked at her and said, "You know what I think the greatest gift I can give you is? It is to love your mother." My daughter's grin turned into a huge smile as she said, "yep Dad, that is the greatest gift."
Father, protect us from the bombardment of advertising that tell us we must buy material gifts in order to gain happiness. Help us to keep our focus and priorities on gifts that matter the most and that last forever. Thank you for giving us the greatest gift of all, everlasting life, through your Son. In His name, Amen.