A Timely Gift

By James R. Henderson

African time" is a standard joke among black and whites in Africa. It refers to a lack of punctuality.

Once I conducted a wedding in Nairobi to which the bride was three hours late! Some of the guests got rather irritated, but most took it in stride. By way of explanation, my friend, Wainaina, quoted to me a common African saying, "The white man has the clock, but the African has the time."

Time is such a precious gift. The Bible says we have to redeem the time, meaning that we have to use it wisely for Christ’s sake (Ephesians 5:16, NKJ).

A new convert in Malawi read a magazine about Christmas. Gifts, tinsel, excess of food and drink, brightly decorated trees. He felt it was his Christian duty to provide such things for his family. So he decided to spend his wage and borrow more for a merry Christmas.

He spoke to me first. Most days he struggled to put food on the table and yet here he was about to blow all he had on Christmas. I told him that putting his family in financial jeopardy did not represent the spirit of the child in the manger. That the white man’s Christmas did not have to celebrated in an African village.

Sure, I explained, rejoice that our Savior was born, have a special meal if you can. Worship together. But if buying gifts takes up all your money or puts you into debt, don’t do it. Africans can give their children one of the best gifts — time. Time spent sharing, playing and laughing. Time enriching family relationships.

Why not give your family something extra special this Christmas? Be like the African — give your family the gift of time.

copyright 2006

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