The light sparkles off the shiny wrapping paper on all the gifts. The lights from the tree above make the gifts look warm and mysterious.The children come back over and over to inspect, and shake, and guess what might be inside. They count how many have their names, and how many have the other kids’ names. After the gifts are opened, someone looks at someone else’s gift, and thinks they got the short end of the stick. Parents bend over backward to try to make sure everyone is treated equally.
Fairness should have nothing to do with gift giving. We read in the Bible about parental favoritism in examples like Jacob and David. Indeed, parents should work hard to express unconditional and genuine love to all their children. But when you receive a gift, that does not entitle you to a gift equal to anyone else. In Matthew 20, Jesus tells a parable about laborers hired to work in a vineyard for a specific sum. Through the day, the owner hired more laborers, who successively worked less time than those hired at first. At the end of the day,the owner paid all the laborers the same, even though some had worked far fewer hours. The workers hired first complained because they expected to be paid more. The owner responded: “Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give tot his last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?” (Matthew 20:14-15).
If a person wants to be generous and give a nice gift to someone else, take care to guard your own heart from envy. Rather than comparing our gift to someone else’s, we should be thankful that anyone wanted to give us anything. What’s more, the air we breathe, the food we eat, the love we share with family, these are all gifts from God. These gifts are nothing compared with the gifts of forgiveness and eternal life in Christ Jesus. Certainly, our attitude should be rooted in thankfulness. Examine your heart, and make sure you are looking at your gifts with gratitude, not envy.