The Unwanted Christmas Gift

by Brian Goins

I’m not sure when we starting putting gift receipts in the boxes, but I am all for it. The gift receipt basically says, “I think you’d like this Christmas sweater festooned with bells on the reindeer antlers, but if by chance you don’t or, more than likely, already have one, get what you really want.”

They didn’t start that tradition soon enough. When I was nine I’m sure my Christmas list was nine pages long. Most items had to do with characters I could fit in my Millennium Falcon. So when I felt a heavy box about the size of an X-Wing Fighter, I tore into it (for those who don’t know about Star Wars, I feel sorry for your childhood).

Instead of Star Wars, I read, “Stetson.” The box smelled like a well-worn saddle.

Inside I discovered various bottles and plastic containers entitled Musk, Talcum Powder, and something called, “Toilette Water.” Now that was funny.

There’s always an unexpected, or dare I say, unwanted gift lurking under the Christmas tree.

God has been known to give us his fair share of cologne packs: unexpected or unwanted gifts that make us hunt for a gift receipt.

  • When Joseph’s seven-prison sentence was doubled
  • When Paul was turned down for a date, again (1 Cor. 7:7-8)
  • When young Mary discovered she was pregnant…before she was married
  • When Jesus asked to return the cup his dad gave him

Injustice. Singleness. Reproach. Suffering. I doubt they loved opening those presents. This year, I’d imagine a few of us received some “gifts” we’d rather return.

In Romans, Paul reminds us, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29). In other words, when God wraps up the Stetson Cologne Pack, he doesn’t include the gift receipt. Joseph’s gift of injustice gave his family deliverance; Paul’s gift of bachelorhood gave hope to the Gentiles; Mary’s gift of reproach gave us a Savior; and Jesus’ gift of suffering gave us salvation.

What gift from God would you like to return this year? Can you trust that such gifts have a greater purpose than you?

Sometimes God gives us “toilette water” so we might become a pleasing “aroma” to others.