It’s the thing INSIDE the package that counts!

Christmas is around the corner and people everywhere are rushing to the stores and shopping by mail looking for just the right gift for everyone. I have observed a technique over the years that everyone seems to resort to as we draw closer to that big day. It seems that we all forget someone, or we receive a gift from someone that we didn’t buy for, or we simply wait until all the good stuff is taken. In this situation we panic first, then pull ourself together, and buy Sally a nice hunting shirt or Peter a light up Santa tie. It is, after all, the thought that really counts and we should all remember that. So we package our gift, wrap it up (very important) and we’re good to go.

As a child, I learned very quickly that packaging could be deceiving. Like so many other children, I would spend hours, even days, staring at those packages that were tagged with my name. I would pick them up, shake them, measure them, and attempt to precisely calculate the contents inside. Unlike my boy’s today, I was most always wrong. The one thing I learned from this was that packaging could be deceiving.

As I fast forward to the present, I can still learn some lessons from packaging. It seems that when we get a thought into our head, we quickly analyze it, organize it, categorize it, and promptly put it in a permanent place in our minds. Some people do this with a glance, others may demand a closer look first.

If I put every valuable item I own in a brown box and set it aside, someone who makes quick judgments might very well glance at it and think it was trash. At that point, in their mind it is trash, and that is where it would end up. Those who demand a closer look may have a wrong opinion about my box in the beginning, but will take the time to see what is really inside.

I am amazed to see how many people are misjudged, stereotyped, or simply overlooked because others categorized them incorrectly at a glance. They never looked close enough to see the talents or the beauty that really exist in them. Once they have decided that there is no value inside the box, they simply have no expectations of anything else.

The real problem is that people often make decisions about the value of others by hearing the conclusions of someone else’s evaluation. Too often we don’t consider that the opinion we hear is based on a false assumption.

Many of you might have heard my ‘snake egg’ story but allow me to tell it again. One day last spring, as we were cleaning up our yard, my wife screamed for me to “Get over here!” She began to show me snake eggs in our yard. I had killed a huge snake days before, so I instantly believed that they were snake eggs, as she said. I grabbed a shovel and began smashing the ‘eggs.’ After about 50 eggs around the yard, I was planning my move to the city. Then I noticed that these ‘eggs’ seemed to be everywhere. I got down on my knees to examine them closer and discovered that they were not eggs but some kind of freaky Texas mushroom. I believed they were snake eggs because I was told they were snake eggs. I had reason to believe that my wife’s identification was correct because I had killed a huge snake a few days earlier. However, I was wrong, or ‘we’ were wrong.

Isn’t this what happens to people around us every day? We shun them and ignore them because we have drawn a false conclusion that they have no value. It may be because of something we heard, or because of how they look from a glance. It’s sad that some will never get a second look.

I can imagine that it was the same so many years ago in that little dusty village, inside that stable. So many people hurried past the entrance of that stable without a glance. Perhaps some heard the Baby cry and thought some poor worthless parents delivered a child without hope. They did not know this child was the Gift of Hope.

At the same time, three very wise men traveled a great distance to see this New Born King. At a glance His ‘packaging’ did not tell the story of His Greatness, but it spoke of His humility, which was the catalyst for His Greatness!

When you look at those around you, don’t simply follow the conclusions of others or evaluate at a glance the outward appearance. Take the time to see what value is inside!

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Rick

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