Gifts or bribes?

Posted on December 11, 2015 · Posted in Holidays

How to make sure you have a miserable Christmas.

Giving gifts can be a dangerous activity, especially if you give gifts to yourself. No, I am not talking about the present under the tree that is labeled from you to you.  I am talking about the gifts you give to your wife or husband or your kids or others close to you.

One example is giving a gift to someone for the pleasure of seeing how much you are appreciated. For example, you are feeling unappreciated by your wife. You find a gift you think will please her and tip the scales back in your favor. This is where things get murky. You spent money on something you really could not afford, so that she would think you are wonderful. When your wife is not overwhelmed with your gift, you are hurt.

You feel this way because in reality, you were giving the gift to yourself. This sort of gift only brings unhappiness.  This is the gift that keeps on hurting.

Another example of giving gifts to yourself is when you give to get something in return. You want your spouse or your child to do something for you that they really don’t want to do. You give them an expensive gift so that you get what you want. This is commonly called a bribe. Not a good idea.

One last example is when you give a gift to atone for your poor behavior. You have chosen to spend long hours at work instead of investing time in your family. Or perhaps you have become harsh in the way you speak. Your solution is to give a gift to make up for your actions. Again, this is a gift you give to yourself.

If you give in order to gain something, anything, for yourself, then you have not followed Christ but the world. You are giving to get. Giving to yourself brings bitterness, disappointment and unnecessary debt.

Christ-like love is selfless love. Give to show love, to show appreciation, to show gratitude. Give gifts that bring praise to Christ, not to yourself.


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Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.