As we wrap up another gift-giving season, some of us have memories of unwrapping a present that seemed just perfect—for someone else. We appreciate the thought. We’re grateful for the gesture. But it just isn’t something we’ll ever pick up or plug in or put on. So, we’re wondering who else might want it.

I’m all for re-gifting. I think it’s a beautiful thing to play matchmaker with gifts and people so that every present finds a good home with a happy recipient.

I think God is in favor of re-gifting, too. It seems that everything He gives to us comes with a command that we give it away to others. But re-gifting is radically different in God’s economy. In the spiritual realm, we don’t pass on our unwanted presents, but we offer to others the very things we must have ourselves. I am thinking in particular of that one essential gift that we all deeply desire and desperately need, but simply must give away.


God, through Christ, presents us with His lavish gift of forgiveness, but when we inspect the tag closely we’ll see that it says:

From: God

To: Dave

For: All

It’s a divine gift that is made for re-gifting. In fact, Jesus makes receiving forgiveness conditional upon re-gifting it. He says it’s impossible for us receive His forgiveness unless we also give it away. So, the only way we can possess this precious gift is if we freely offer it to others. To claim it without re-gifting it is to greedily clutch an empty box.

You might say that forgiveness is the gift that’s for giving.

Now, that’s all very easy for me to say, but I can tell you that it’s not so easy to do. As Philip Yancey put it, forgiveness is an “unnatural act.” Humanly speaking, it’s impossible. It took a long time for me to recognize that forgiveness is a supernatural act–a divine gift–both in the original gifting and the re-gifting.

Next time, I’ll explore why it can be so hard for us to do the humanly impossible. Together we’ll unwrap some reasons why we can have such difficulty re-gifting God’s forgiveness.

9 thoughts on “Re-Gifting

  1. Very well said, Dave. Even with God’s help, forgiveness can be like a vinegar-and-ammonia cocktail. With a dash of lemon juice.
    One of the hardest aspects can be separating Christian forgiveness from secular forgiveness…which is swathed in the sentimental drapery from Hallmark cards. Once I get past that, and see the steel that lies behind the velvet touch of Christ…I’m better with it. But I suppose I am jumping ahead to the next post topic.

    For sure, we can’t take forgiveness without passing it on. The price of that little faux pas is, as Jesus put it in one of His more pithy parables, more than we would ever want to pay.

    And the kicker is…we as Christians have, literally, no choice. We’ve taken the King’s shilling.

    • Andrew, thank you for offering your good insights. You are so right. There is authentic forgiveness and then there are cheap imitations–secular and religious. Yes, the cocktail of forgiveness can have a very unpleasant taste when it’s first going down, but, as you point out, we have no choice but to drink it. The King drank the bitter cup of wrath for our sakes, so that we might receive, and extend to others, the sweet grace of His forgiveness.

  2. Another “Aha!” moment, brought to me by you, Dave Hamlin.
    Thank you.
    I will never look at re-gifting quite the same way.

  3. The most fun parties are the ones where you get to take a re-gifted present for a gift exchange. Everyone knows it’s your junk, but sometimes it turns out to be their treasure. It’s always amusing to hear the backstory and I love your take on it … matchmaking the perfect gift with the perfect person. Best of all is your insight about forgiveness being for giving. That’s profound, really. Thanks, Dave.

    • Yes, a little wrapping paper can make a special gift out of the most ordinary and unlikely objects.
      Thank you for your comments on re-gifting forgiveness, Kim.
      May God help us–again and again–to enter into the profound reality of extending His forgiveness. Something tells me He’ll give us more opportunities to re-gift.

      • Oh, good news, Dave. I wouldn’t want to run out of opportunities to grow and just sit around comfortable for a while. 😉 Thanks for your insight.

  4. The great thing about the re-gift you’re talking about is we don’t have to keep track of who we received it from to avoid the embarrassment of giving it back to the giver – it’s probably one of the few gifts we’d all welcome back. Happy New Year, Dave!

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