The popular holiday song, Give Love on Christmas Day, encourages people to “give more than just presents from a store” on Christmas. The lyrics state “No greater gift is there than love.”
There is something else that also makes a great gift during the holiday season: Gratitude. Express your gratitude for good health, having a boss who appreciates your work, getting the support of your family and friends, or having a comfortable place to call home. We all need to bless each other with expressions of thankfulness. Tell people what you are thankful for and why. In return you will receive a renewed appreciation for your life, become energized, and build stronger relationships.
Here’s a story that explains why verbal expressions of thanks are so important, not only at Christmas and Thanksgiving, but throughout the year.
During the annual Thanksgiving service, the congregation at a church became confused as they followed along in their bulletins. According to the order of service, the next items were: “Thanksgiving Offering and Presentation of Scripture.” The church members and visitors had just finished going up to the podium one-by-one to share what they were thankful for this holiday season. Their speeches were heartfelt and emotional — filled with stories of recovering from illnesses, spending many beautiful years with loved ones who had recently gone to be with the Lord, and experiencing kind gestures from relatives and friends. They talked about how each passing year helped them see more clearly the thousands of ways the Lord had shown His love for them.
Now, the speaker had taken the podium for the presentation of the Scripture. The congregation was perplexed. What happened to the collection of the offering? Surely, the pastor had not overlooked it, they thought. While they listened to the speaker, the congregation set their offerings aside for safekeeping. However, the service ended and still no offering was collected. Afterwards, many walked over to the pastor and told him, “You forgot to let us give the offering. Here . . . ”
The pastor quickly said, “No, no. It’s all right. I’m happy to take your donations, because we surely need the funds. But, we did take the offering this morning. Don’t you remember? You stood and told God what you were thankful for. That is the offering He wanted from you today!” The church members and visitors smiled; the pastor had gotten his point over in a way they would never forget.
What is your offering today? What are you grateful for? As the pastor in this story acknowledged, it is fine to show your appreciation for people or institutions by giving material items such as money or gifts. But the Lord wants to hear a verbal expression of thanks. That’s also what our family members, co-workers, neighbors, public servants and others need to hear when they do something that you appreciate.
Bless the people who blessed you by verbally expressing your gratitude for their kind actions. It may be the best offering — and best present — that you can give this holiday season.