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A very stingy man went Christmas shopping, but everything he saw was too expensive except a P1,500 peso vase that was on sale for 50 pesos because the handle was broken off. He bought it and had the salesman ship it by mail so that his friend would think that he had paid P1,500 peso for it and that it had been broken in the shipment.

A week after Christmas, he received a thank you letter from his friend. The note says, “Thank you for the lovely vase,” and “it was so nice of you to wrap each piece separately.” What an embarrassment! How could a vase get broken by accident and arrive at his friend’s house with the broken pieces wrapped separately?

I was told that a textile tycoon used to send his friends Christmas presents in the form of fabrics. But there was a problem with his gifts. Each piece of fabric was always a piece too short and when examined closely, they had runs on it. In other words, only second quality fabrics. But the most ridiculous thing this stingy fellow would do was call up his friends and explain that the fabrics were not too wide because they were skinny anyway! And all the while I thought that Scrooge was just in books. Now I’m sure that they are everywhere.

It has been said that there are essentially three kinds of givers. The first kind is what you call the flint type of givers. To get anything out of a flint, you must hammer it. The second is the sponge kind of giver – the more you squeeze, the more you will get. The third giver is the honeycomb kind of giver. The honeycomb giver just overflows with its own sweetness.

I’d like to add another kind of giver to this list. What I have in mind is the investor kind of givers. They give expecting to make a profit. They grant favors only because they have a hidden agenda. Appliances, furniture, and on more than one occasion, cold cash are unabashedly sent to their clients. In return for a sizable order for the forthcoming year. What’s so indecent about this is that the gift goes with a verbal reminder about next year’s business transactions.

Isn’t it terrible how the once noble act of gift-giving is now degraded by a ton of selfish motives? This had effectively destroyed the meaning of Christmas.

If we really want to give, we better make sure that the desire springs from true appreciation and friendship. Giving is not necessarily wrong but we should be careful that we don’t compromise our principles and standards.

I’m not immune to giving gifts. In fact, I love to do it. In my heart, I’m actually aiming for a deeper level of friendship when I do. I accept gifts too, but only when I’m confident that I’m seen as a friend, not as a guarantee for more business.

Don’t copy Scrooge when you give. Don’t be a flint or a sponge or even an investor. Give only when it comes from your heart it must be valuable. And when you receive, remember that righteousness has no price tag. The gift should never threaten your integrity and honesty.

We sometimes fail to recognize that God’s sacrifice is the premise of giving gifts during Christmas. He gave His son Jesus to stand in for our punishment and in return, we are asked to accept that event as true – that Jesus really did open the way to God. God in His grace, gave us the faith to believe just that. Our belief reaches its completion when we let go of our past and what people might say of us just to welcome God in our hearts. We let God’s standards be ours, His principles our lifestyles, His word our manual for living and His son our model.

Oh hey, we don’t get to be all that spiritual in a snap of a finger. It’s a process of being more and more in awe of God as time passes. Imagine? Giving isn’t just a simple act, it’s a mighty stretch on our part to build lives. - F. Kong


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