Maybe the mantra “it’s better to give than receive” should be reconsidered, at least partially, because most people are in great need of receiving gifts as well.

American culture is crippled with feelings of despair, loneliness, fear, and exhaustion. Academic studies consistently conclude the unhealthy psyche we often operate with. Perhaps the gift-giving component of Christmas amplifies rather than alleviates those feelings. Does Christmas feel like yet another busy task on the already enormous “to do” list of your life? Is Christmas another example of you giving 100% to others and receiving very little in return? If any of this sounds familiar, open yourself to receive some important gifts this season:

Receive the gift of God’s Love: Most people believe God loves the world, but how many also believe that God loves YOU…yes YOU!!! It’s a wonderful gift to be reminded that you are a precious son or daughter of Almighty God. The sad reality is most people think pretty lowly of themselves, focusing on parts of their life they regret or on insecurities about their physical appearance. In a world of low self-esteem, it’s a wonderful gift to know you are cherished and loved by God.

Receive the gift of God’s grace: You’ve made mistakes…we all have; you’ve messed up…so have I; you’re not perfect…and that’s okay because God is! God’s love and grace is not a trite sentimental expression but a burning, holy radiance with supernatural power to redeem and restore humanity from our brokenness. In describing the refining and purifying nature of God’s grace, the Bible states that if we receive this gift, we stand holy and blameless before God. Striving for perfection, feeling inadequate, or living with regret leaves us in mental and emotional prisons…but God’s grace is a gift, a gift with power to set us free.

Receive the gift of Stopping: The most beautiful gift you can receive this season might be breaking the addiction of busyness by entering into God’s rest. Yes, there is the gift of STOP and actually resting from the breakneck pace of the holidays. This can include setting apart time for worship, reading a devotional, enjoying recreation, or taking a nap. God created the gift of stopping because the human soul needs rest and renewal.

Receive the gift of Letting Go: Part of our desire to be the constant giver of gifts is because the giver is in control. It can be wonderful to let go of control, of freeing yourself from believing the happiness of the whole world depends on you. I know, if you don’t take care of it, chances are it won’t get done. And maybe it won’t get done….but maybe it will. Letting go might allow others to help or become more responsible. But what if this doesn’t get done we lament….maybe it doesn’t need to get done. Most things in our lives are not life or death, and letting go might allow you to see what’s really important and what might be cluttering your life with unnecessary stress and distractions.


– Dr. John Robert Black