Hard to shop for?
Have you categorized someone in your life as “hard to shop for” at Christmas time? Maybe you gave them a gift that you thought was really nice, but they didn’t seem to like it. So you’ve concluded that there’s nothing you can give them. On the other hand, that could just be your own misconception of them. Maybe, because of your own lack of love and care for them, you have no idea what they might need or appreciate. To hide your own disgrace and shame, you conclude that there is nothing you could give them that they do not already have.
Are you and I hard to shop for when it comes to the gift God wants to give to us?
Psalm 89:1 reads: “I will sing of the LORD's great love forever.” The Hebrew word “hesed” is interesting that the word. We sometimes translate that word from the Hebrew as the Lord’s “great love” or “kindness” toward us sinners. However, it can also mean “disgrace” or “shame” depending on the context. Psalm 52:3 in the Hebrew text uses the word “hesed” to mean “falsehood.”
How our love falls short of God’s love! How often it is void of kindness! Our lack of love for God and our neighbor is a disgrace and shame to us! It is a falsehood to our Christianity!
Even when Abraham used this word, he made a pig’s ear out of it. He asked his wife to show her love (ḥesed) for him by deceiving the people of the land they were passing through (Genesis ). Not his greatest moment of trusting the faithfulness of God’s love for him or the world.
Thankfully, Ethan the Ezrahite was led by the Holy Spirit to sing of the LORD’s great love and faithfulness… not ours. The beginning of Psalm 89 reads: “A maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.” (A maskil is a poem of contemplation.)
The psalmist wrote the words of Psalm 89 even though it looked doubtful that the LORD would ever fulfill his promises. "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, 'I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations'" (Psalm 89:3,4). How many divisions and unfaithful kings would come and go before the LORD’s promise to establish David’s throne forever would be realized in Christ (2 Samuel 7:8-16)!
While we may have misconceptions about the people we try to give gifts to, God has no misconceptions about us. He knows what we lack and he knows what we need. He knows the best gift for us. And proving his great loving kindness for us, in Christ, he is faithful in giving us that gift. We, in contrast, have a hard time receiving it.
We can be so quick to think we know all there is to know about love and faithfulness so that we have no room in our hearts for God’s loving kindness. So we withhold forgiveness from others for no other reason than our pride. Or we plunge into despair concluding that God could not possibly love us after the things we have thought, said, or done. How we need what God has to give!
Thankfully, God doesn’t give up on giving us the best gift for Christmas no matter how often we have wanted something else. Nor, does he stop loving us. It’s not his gift that needs to change in order to suit what we want. It is our hearts that need to be prepared to receive the gift he has given.