Some children expect a gift every time their parents go away for an evening or an overnight trip. I’m sure my children would never object to this method of lavishing love, but my three-year-old son prefers to be on the giving end.
At least 200 times each day, this darling child of mine will saunter into a room with a small object hidden in his arms. He’ll approach with a sly, sideways smile and proclaim, “Mama, I have a surprise for you!”
He’s three. He doesn’t actually have a surprise. This child doesn’t have the ability to get to the local store without someone helping him with his coat, buckling him into his car seat, and driving him five miles down the road. My son isn’t bringing me an object I’ve never seen; he has one of the toys my husband or I purchased for him.
He does not care that his gift isn’t even new; he does, however, care about his presentation and my reaction.
He hides the toy from my view, or sometimes he even wraps it in paper or a cloth. He takes great care to choose a toy that might specifically interest me. He maintains the secret of what his arms contain until his little heart might burst.
He then shares the toy with me and watches for my reaction. He seeks to bring me delight and happiness. He never brings me a wooden train or a toy cat with the desire to upset me.
He gives each one of his gifts with the intent of bringing joy.
If only I were so innocent.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as it is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (ESV)
Or, even more simply the Message states, “Let every word you speak be a gift.”
I talk a lot. I spew words from my mouth as directives to my children or instructions for my husband. For my job, I share God’s Word in written form or in the form of a speech. I am constantly sharing the story of our family’s adoptions and missional-living style. I speak to my friends and people I’ve never met (hello, I’m an extrovert). I post short sentences on social media or even paragraphs of rants. I talk to the grocery store clerk and the librarian on a weekly basis.
Do I give my words the same care and presentation as my son gives his recycled toys?
I know I don’t.
I rarely speak with careful thought and preparation. I know I don’t give my gifts of words for the sole reaction of delight and happiness. I don’t take the time to choose words specific for the receiver of my gifts. Most times, I only speak because of my personal agenda.
This week, it has been difficult to be present on social media. Our nation’s leadership is making controversial choices – and no matter if we agree, disagree, or fall in the middle, we citizens desire to maintain a voice.
Social media has given each one of us an immediate platform. Many have used this platform for their personal agendas, but how many of us have seen our words as gifts? Have the letters we typed reflected preparation and care? Is our desire to bring joy to the recipient?
A gift. Our words are to be a gift. Last week. This week. And next week.
God, let our words resonate among your people with the preparation and joy of an old wooden train gifted to the mama of a three year old.
Let our words be a gift.