Burdensome gifts

The JOY FM, one of the many radio stations I button-whack while driving, is celebrating 30 years of ministry and granting 30 wishes.

Last week I heard the spot for the latest wish that was granted. The JOY FM provided an RV for ten days of travel, and gas money and Visa gift cards for a family to take a vacation. This family has at least two children who have life-threatening allergies and some other health problems. The RV was provided so that family could clean and disinfect it themselves to eliminate the known allergens.

This family was granted a wish because the father is a stay-at-home-daddy because of his kids’ health needs. This family doesn’t have much extra money. We can all relate to times when there hasn’t been a lot of play money. I love that The JOY FM is so generous; however, I couldn’t help but think if this gift is more of a burden than a blessing.

You might wonder how I could say that when everything seems to have been taken care of: the RV is provided, great; gas money is included, awesome; Visa gift cards will cover some travel and vacation expenses, perfect. But what about when to go and where to go? How will they afford parking an RV somewhere for those 10 days? Not to mention, does vacationing in an RV mean more work and money than not taking a vacation? And do they even want to take a vacation in an RV?

I don’t know the ins and outs of this family, their hopes for a vacation, or even the scope of all that they were given. While I thought about what I do know they were given and the circumstances that were mentioned, I couldn’t keep from thinking that maybe, in the spirit of generosity, this family has been burdened more by a gift that was meant to be a blessing.

We are commanded in the Bible to be generous, of course. Second Corinthians 9 is about giving cheerfully while remembering that God will always supply your needs. The Corinthians were giving to a specific purpose here. Their gift had a singular intention.

There have been times when I have been tempted to, and other times when I actually have, given gifts that were not purposeful. Sure, maybe they were fun. Maybe I thought they were a great idea. Maybe they were done from the right motivations. But they were burdensome because, amid the right motivations and a generous spirit, they overlooked the basic needs and circumstances of the person receiving the gift.

This introspection at last led me to think about God’s gifts. His gifts are always right and timely and good and—very unlike the ones I have given sometimes—always purposeful (just consider the endowment of spiritual gifts). Granting 30 wishes is a wonderful and unique way to show the love of Christ. I only hope that the main message and purpose doesn’t get lost in the thrills of giving or the extravagances of the gifts.

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