The value of a gift runs deeper than its wrapping. On Christmas Day, a man noticed his daughter had wrapped a box for him with very expensive paper. When the time came to open his gifts, he opened the special box from his little girl. It was empty.

Since the family was poor, the man was furious because his daughter had just wasted this expensive wrapping paper. He demanded, “Why did you have to use this wrapping paper? Don’t you realize how expensive this is? We can’t afford to replace this.”

As a little tear trickled down her face, the little girl looked up at her daddy and said, “Daddy, it’s not empty. I blew kisses inside.”

The child’s gift conveyed a message about her to her father. It showed her thoughtfulness and creativity as well as her pure, selfless love. Likewise, God’s gifts to us remind us of His character. When we focus on externals, we will forever miss their significance. This means we have to look beyond the “bad” circumstances and people we encounter over a given day and even beyond the “good” things we experience to the God who provided them. God is good, and everything which comes from Him is consistent with His nature. A diamond is worth no less in a burlap sack than in a velvet-cushioned jewelry box — don’t judge the gift by its wrapping.

Some of God’s greatest gifts come in packages which are not elaborately wrapped. By these, I mean the trials which push us to our limits or the people who get under our skin. The “present” behind these challenges may be hard to find at first; but if we examine the package carefully, we will find treasures of infinite value. We will see how God is using the gift to refine our character and help us reach spiritual maturity — and we will understand why we cannot judge a gift by its wrapping.

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.