“Then the righteous will answer him, Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothed you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” Matthew 25:37-39
If someone mentions gift to you, do you think of a gaily-wrapped box or an envelope of money? The Africans taught me the value of different kinds of gifts.
When the draught hit our village, the water reservoirs and wells were empty. The church ladies carried large basins of water on their heads from the river to my home. It was three miles round-trip on foot.
I offered to pay them for bringing water, but they all refused. They said, “If we bring water to you, it is like we are serving Jesus.”
After the new pastor and his wife arrived in our village, the church women decided to supply them with firewood for a year. It was a huge commitment, but they fulfilled it. Every day, two designated women each brought a load of fuel to the pastor’s house. It was a precious gift, because without firewood, no one could survive.
In my thirty years in Africa, the only time I received a beautiful box with a ribbon was from another missionary. The local people gave me gifts of charcoal, buckets of water, mangoes, bananas, papayas, rice, and peanuts which I needed and appreciated. Once a lady I sent to sewing school made me a dress, to thank me. Even that was presented to me in a black, plastic bag, no fancy paper.
We have more than we realize. We can cut someone’s grass, clean her gutters, shovel snow, or take her to the store. Visit a shut-in, call a homebound person, or check on someone who isn’t feeling well.
Not every present comes to us in a gaily-wrapped box with a red bow. In Africa I preferred a gift of water, food, and fuel which were not only thoughtful and sacrificial, but necessary to life.
If we don’t have the financial resources to buy a gift, we may be able to give someone a present that is valued just as much. What about a smile, a hug or even a kind word. These are all gifts that don’t cost money, and most people are blessed by them.
Let’s thank God for the gifts He has given us, and share them with others.