Tuesday, December 14, 2021

President Spencer W. Kimball on the proper spirit of Christmas giving

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) was ordained an apostle in 1943 and served as President of the Church from 1973 to 1985.
"Like the wise men who opened their treasury and presented to Jesus gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh, we present to our loved ones things to eat and wear and enjoy.
"Though we make an effort to follow the pattern of gift giving, sometimes our program becomes an exchange—gift given for gift expected. Never did the Savior give in expectation. I know of no case in his life in which there was an exchange. He was always the giver, seldom the recipient. Never did he give shoes, hose, or a vehicle; never did he give perfume, a shirt, or a fur wrap. His gifts were of such a nature that the recipient could hardly exchange or return the value. His gifts were rare ones: eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, and legs to the lame; cleanliness to the unclean, wholeness to the infirm, and breath to the lifeless. His gifts were opportunity to the downtrodden, freedom to the oppressed, light in the darkness, forgiveness to the repentant, hope to the despairing. His friends gave him shelter, food, and love. He gave them of himself, his love, his service, his life. The wise men brought him gold and frankincense. He gave them and all their fellow mortals resurrection, salvation, and eternal life. We should strive to give as he gave. To give of oneself is a holy gift."
- Spencer W. Kimball, "The Wondrous Gift," pamphlet, 1978; see also TSWK pp. 246-247

In the gift-giving of this Christmas season, it's very easy to lose focus on the meaning of the action. Even if we're not giving "in expectation" of a return, or in response to a previous gift, we can still give just to impress or just because we feel it's expected. I love President Kimball's analysis of the meaning of our gifts in light of the Savior's example.

This is a beautiful conclusion and a sacred reminder:
"We should strive to give as he gave.
To give of oneself is a holy gift."
Ralph Waldo Emerson — "The only true gift is a portion of thyself."

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
December 17, 2015

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