Thursday, December 8, 2011


Today's passage:  II Samuel 19:9-43
   It is that awkward time of year again.  How is it awkward?  Inevitably, I receive an unexpected present.  A present I had not anticipated and from someone for whom I did not buy a present.  For me, that is always awkward.  I always appreciate the sentiment, but tinged with guilt.  Why did I not think to get that person a present?  It is humbling, because I have received gifts from people that would have not been on my gift list radar.  I have received gifts from people who I deemed mere acquaintances and wonder if I rank significantly higher on their friends list.  I know that in most cases, they are not expecting something in return.  It is really the joy of giving that motivates them.  This is also the time of year that the TV and radio reiterate the "tip" list.  You know, the list of people in service jobs who deserve a bonus this time of year.  Your postal carrier, your dog walker, your hairdresser, your doorman, your handyman, your financial manager, etc., etc., etc.  Has anybody noticed that this list seems to expand every year?  Now, I'm not knocking this.  I have benefited from such kindness.  As a teacher, as a clinic receptionist, as a house cleaner, my employers were more than generous at Christmas time.  But I never felt entitled to those bonuses.  I never expected it.   If I had the money to get every person who has performed a service for me this year a present, I would have nothing left to get the people who are really dear to me anything.  Am I the only one that thinks this list is a little exaggerated?  I mean, should I give every single person who works in a service capacity a gift for doing their job?  Sorry, I don't feel obligated to do that.  In the past several years, our newspaper delivery person and our postman have left Christmas cards with names and addresses in our mailbox.  Hint, hint, so we know where to send a Christmas bonus.  After Christmas had passed, and we did not tip these people, it seemed like a big coincidence that our newspaper, placed neatly on our porch previously, always ended up in a snow pile at the bottom of the steps.  I'm not saying these people don't deserve something extra special at Christmas, but don't expect it.  We are one of those families that simply cannot afford to give a gift to every person we meet.  Maybe there are some that can, and that's fine.  I think its great that service employees receive something extra special from some of their clientele, just don't begrudge those of us that can't.
     So I kind of veered on a rabbit trail there, but the gift giving does tie into this passage today.  King David is returning to Jerusalem, resuming his rightful place on the throne.  As he journeys back, he encounters friends who stuck by him through this horrible mess, and foes who opposed him.  The foes are particularly nervous because they are certain that David will execute judgement.  But he doesn't.  What?  He is merciful.  He ignores his advisers counsel to make examples of these traitors.  However, he does not forget his friends.  He is prepared to handsomely reward them.  So nothing happens to the enemies, but great things happen to the loyalists.  I'm wondering if David thought the best punishment for these folks, was to see the blessings they would miss for not serving him.
Shimei Throws Stones at David--Taken from Treasures of the Bible (United Kingdom)
By Henry Davenport Northrop D.D.
International Publishing Company, 1894
     That makes me think of our King's return.  He is coming back someday.  Many apologies will be made to Him then.  Not just by people who rejected Him, but by people who claim to know Him but never lived for Him.  They will have all kinds of excuses as to why they didn't serve Him.  Some of those apologies will be genuine, but some of them will be out of fear of the judgement to come.  I believe God chastens us for wrongdoing if we are His children.  But what if He comes today?  Some of those people who have not been living for Him, who have accepted Him as Savior, but have never bothered to give back a little part of their lives to Him, may still be involved in living in sin.  If Christ came back today, where is the chastening, where is the punishment?  They will get to go to Heaven.  Ah, but here is where the chastening comes in.  When those of us who have lived for Him stand before Him in Heaven, we will have crowns to throw at His feet.  Those who wasted their lives serving the god of this world will stand empty-handed, shame-faced before the King of kings.  Where is the chastisement?  When they have no gift to give the One who died for them.  When the One that should have been at the top of their gift list does not receive a present, when He gave the greatest gift of all--our salvation.  I so do not want to be one of those people.  I really want to live in a way that is pleasing to my God, so that I can give it all back to Him.  He has given me so much.  His mercy may be to spare judgement, but it can not spare us any shame we feel for not living our whole lives for Him.  I pray I will not be embarrassed to always give back to Him.  I pray I do not forget to give Him something at Christmas time and every day of the year.  Because that would be really awkward.

1 comment:

  1. Christmas time has been made into a big "commercial success" by the world these days. And that's really sad. I hope that it will not be awkward for me as I try to give gifts to the people I love & give cards to people who matter in my life, and to simply give love, care and genuine concern with prayers to others who might be acquaintances and strangers alike. The love of Christ and His salvation are the best Christmas gift God has given to us, why do we have to "commercialize" it? Thanks for the reminder Stephanie. Merry Christmas! =))


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