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:
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.