The Real Gift is The Thought Inside


Our sense of gratitude is relative to the size of the “gift” a person gives to us. Let me explain. 

A rich friend gave you a twenty dollar gift card for your birthday present. Of course you would say, “Thank you” to the giver. But deep down, perhaps you were grumbling, “Really? That’s it? You are my friend and you are capable of giving more than just a twenty-dollar-gift card.” Compared to someone you barely know who gave you a thousand dollar gift out of the blue. O boy, I believe you would appreciate it very much. You would write the nicest thank you letter on a fifteen dollar Hallmark’s card with gold glitter and promise to yourself that you would repay the giver with a nice gift on their next special occasion.


Or consider a different example. Oftentimes our social identity as a consumer dictates how we should be grateful or not. We have been trained to think of ourselves and then to behave as consumers. If we are a consumer, it follows that our primary expectation of the people we meet is that we get something from them for which we are prepared to pay a price. Like giving the tip to the waiter in a restaurant or to our pizza guy: Good service 25% tip, poor service: standard tipping: 10%. Or, going back to the first example, we put people we know in scales and ranks: the better the person, the better our treatments toward them. 


There’s nothing wrong with that. Aren’t we all reaping what we are sowing? Even Jesus realized our tendencies to grade our gratefulness in terms of the gifts we received and even reminded His disciples about that. In the event of a sinful woman who bathed Jesus’ feet with perfume and wiped them with her hair (in Luke 7:36-50), answering the cynicism of the people around Jesus, He answered: “Do you see this woman? When I entered your home, you didn’t give me water for my feet, but she wet my feet with tears and wiped them with her hair.  You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet since I came in. You didn’t anoint my head with oil, but she has poured perfumed oil on my feet. This is why I tell you that her many sins have been forgiven; so she has shown great love. The one who is forgiven little loves little.”  


But I would like you to consider this story I got from a friend the other day. 

There was a desert wanderer who discovered a spring of cool, crystal-clear water. It tasted so good, he filled a leather container with the precious liquid so he could bring it to the king. After a long journey, he presented his gift to the king, who drank it with great pleasure and lavishly thanked the wanderer, who went away with a happy heart. The king’s son tasted the water and spit it out. It had picked up the smell of the old leather canteen and had become foul. The boy asked his father why he pretended to like the awful tasting water. The king said, “Son, that man gave me a gift from his heart. It wasn’t the water I enjoyed; it was the sweet taste of his generosity. When someone gives you something with genuine love, the thing given is simply the container. The real gift is the thought inside.” 


Oftentimes, we overlook the “gift” that a person gave to us just because the gift is too simple and looks cheap, such as a wishing well card, a bag of cookies, or a simple text message from someone you know wishing you a happy birthday. We judge the gifts thinking that the givers are capable of giving more than what they already gave us. How about the next time we get the gifts we express our gratitude the same no matter the size of the gifts? Because in the end the real gift is the thought inside.”


Consider another story about a poor widow: “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)


Love and prayers, 

Vincent Arishvara 06102021