My mother used to give the worst Christmas presents. In fact, in recent years, my siblings and I would usually grin at each other as one of us was unwrapping our present. There was always a bit of an inside joke going around to see who got the worst gift that year. My siblings and I have unwrapped knickknacks that we would never use, games we would never play, and various gifts that were destined to be regifted later. What’s worse, as a young man who never wore any jewelry, my mother twice bought me necklaces and once even bought me a large wooden jewelry box.
But, no matter how bad the present was, we always made a point to show our gratitude, thank our mother, and hold on to that gift. Over the various moves that I have made in my life, I have often thrown many things away, but I could rarely bring myself to throw away one of my mom’s presents. In fact, that wooden jewelry box is still sitting on my dresser today. And, since my mom passed away, I often find myself opening the box for no reason and thinking about fond memories of her.
What makes a gift important is not the material value of the gift; it’s the emotional connection between the gift-giver and the gift-receiver. My mom could give me horrible presents, but I still valued them, because they were from my mom.
In today’s Scripture passage, Joseph’s brothers prepare a lavish gift in order to try to appease the supposed wrath of the governor, and he completely ignores it. But, when he sees his brother whom he loves, he is overcome with emotion and has to leave the room. His brother’s presence is the real present.
Please read Genesis 43:24-30.
Can you imagine Joseph’s brothers diligently preparing to meet the governor again? Last time they met, they were thrown into prison, and Simeon was only just released. Now they must seek his favor again, and who knows how the governor will react? So they carefully prepare themselves, and arrange their present in the perfect way to best magnify it before their host. They make every effort to place their present in the best light in order to appease the governor. Then Joseph comes in, and completely ignores their gift!
For Joseph, the true present in this meeting is not the material gift that they have brought, but the personal one. Joseph is so overcome with emotion upon seeing Benjamin that he has to leave the room. How incredible it is to finally see his younger brother again! He is beyond happy!
This should serve as a reminder for us: the value of a gift is not in its material significance; it’s the emotional connection between the gift-giver and the gift-receiver. Joseph would have been happy to see Benjamin, even if there was no material gift. Just like I’m happy to think about my mom, whether I’m looking at the perfect physical gift, or an unused jewelry box.
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