Are you wondering what to give your friends for Christmas this
year? Might I suggest five gifts that have no price tags, yet their value
1. The Gift of Time.
Here is a gift that is at the very top of most people’s “want list.” It is a
gift that simply has no substitute. It is universally desired, and one size
Little Billy would walk the block to his Grandpa’s house every afternoon to
visit. It was the highlight of his Grandpa’s day. Sometimes they would swing,
sometimes fish, sometimes play catch, and sometimes just talk.
But one day Billy’s visits stopped. Grandpa call Billy’s mother, but she would
only say that Billy was busy that afternoon. With great disappointment, the old
Grandpa finally concluded that his grandson was just “too busy” to continue his
Two weeks later Billy showed up at his Grandpa’s door. He held out a
painted pottery bowl and said, “Here Grandpa, I have been making this for you.
That’s why I could not come to see you!”
“Billy, I love your gift so much. I will cherish it and put it in my kitchen
window. But if you ever decide to make me another gift, please remember that
the gift I value more than anything else is just the gift of the time we spend
So it is with most of our friends. It is the gift of “the giver himself” that
is much more desired than the gifts he gives.
2. The Gift of Patience.
Our friends may be wonderful people, but they are still just
“people.” As such, they should be viewed, not as finished projects, but
projects “still under
Inevitably, there will times when our friends forget to call us, or fail to
thank us, or feel that other priorities take precedence over us. Extending the
gift of patience and “cutting them some slack” will keep us from being so
disappointed every time they do not measure up to our expectations.
3. The Gift of Empathy. Empathy
means “Your pain in my heart.” It is a priceless gift that extends beyond
someone to feeling with someone.
One does not have to personally experience every situation of life to be able
to identify with someone who is hurting.
As a former Pastor I remember a lady who had lost her husband in a tragic
accident telling me what it was like to go home after his funeral and see his
work boots by the back door.
I began to visualize details of what it must be like to be going through the
trials that my church people were going through. Doing that, plus walking
through the heartaches with them, developed much more of an ability to be
empathetic with people.
Translating their hurt into the details of our world – that’s what I’m talking
about. The person who can do this will develop life-long friends.
4. The Gift of
Listening. Wouldn’t you agree that the reason many of us are
not empathetic, is because we do not really listen when people share their
problems with us?
We want the person to quickly summarize their situation so we can prescribe the
solution and move on. I am still learning, as are most men, that people do not
usually want you to heal their problem; they just want you to hear about it!
Job, the great sufferer of Old Testament fame, had friends that first
surrounded him in the midst of his tragedies. For seven days they were of
tremendous solace as they sat with him and said nothing. It was when they began
to speak and offer their “explanations and solutions” that they ceased to be of
help to him any longer.
Might God help us use our ears and our mouths in proportion to the way they
were given – twice as much hearing as talking!
I know of few things that are more precious than a friend who is a good
listener. Empathetic people usually get that way by being good listeners.
5. The Gift of
Encouragement. People who are encouragers seem to have more
friends, because encouragement attracts people like a magnet!
An unexpected card, a text, a call, a visit, an email, or an invitation to
coffee – it does not have to be much to be deeply appreciated. It can literally
transform a dismal day into an enjoyable day. It can be like a cool drink in
the midst of a dry desert!
Wouldn’t it be a great idea if each morning we determined to encourage at least
one person before the day is over? That type of a habit would result in a
lot of changed people – not just the ones who are encouraged, but also the ones
who are doing the encouraging.
Gifts do not have to cost much to be costly. In fact, there is usually not a
direct correlation between the two. The costliest gifts are priceless gifts
because they include a part of us.