Christmas is over and you’ve collected your gifts. Etiquette says that if you were not present to receive your gift and say, “Thank you!” in person, then you should send a handwritten card. That’s probably a good guideline, though not many of us are guilty of overdoing gratitude, so think about writing to others too.
Why give thanks?
At our best, we give and receive gifts in order to build relationships. The gift may be intended to meet a particular need, delight the heart with a new and/or shared experience, cement a memory, open new doors of learning or service, provide comfort, or fulfill a myriad of other functions. Unless the gift is given anonymously, it is always intended to unite the giver and the receiver so that the recipient can advance in some sense.
In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul tells Timothy what life among God’s people should look like. In 1 Timothy 6:17-19, God says:
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
Participating in the work of Christ’s kingdom here on earth through generosity provides more than a mystical return on investment in glory. Those who give richly now enable and cultivate people and relationships that will continue for all of eternity. Gift-giving is investment in eternal souls. Recipients are responsible to receive with gratitude and put those gifts to use seeking Christ in ways great and small (1 Timothy 4:4).
Gratitude among Christians, whether expressed orally or in print, returns a tie to the giver that binds us still closer as we store up treasure for ourselves as a good foundation for the future in heaven. We’re going to spend forever together. A good thank you note communicates, usually implicitly, an awareness that eternity has been changed through the endowing of goods or services.
What, then, should be included in a good thank you note? Elements may include:
- Appreciation for the giver more than the gift
- Acknowledgement of particular thoughtfulness on the part of the giver through this gift
- Enjoyment in the gift itself
- Reflection on how hospitality shown or services rendered met a need or touched your heart
- Anticipation of how the gift will be used
- Awareness that God is ultimately worthy of praise
Finally, don’t forget the joy of returning thanks for kindnesses in the past. Coincidentally, as I was writing this post, I received a note of thanks from a friend laboring for Christ in another hemisphere. It made my day, and reminded me of the foundation of friendship in Christ that is already being established for the future as we take hold of eternal life together.
It’s time to write your thank you notes. Happy writing!