Less Conspicuous Gifts
2021 First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional
Sunday, December 5, 2021
When I was young, the highlight of Christmas was the arrival of Grandma and Grandpa Lundgren. Each year they would make the long drive in an old car to visit. We loved them, and we loved Grandma’s Swedish pancakes—made with fresh sour cream that she brought with her from a local farmer in her hometown. She stood at the stove for hours, making pancakes until we couldn’t eat another bite. Now two additional generations of children have grown up feasting on those Swedish pancakes. And every time we make them, we remember Grandma Lundgren and her gift of love.
Some of the very best gifts are gifts of our time and talents. I believe such gifts are holy gifts.
This is a season of anticipating new gifts. But tonight, let’s pause to consider gifts you have already been given—and who has given them and why.
God has given each of us gifts. You may not feel gifted, but you have spiritual gifts from God so you can bless others and draw closer to Him.1
What gifts has God given you?
To be honest, I have never really seen myself as a gifted person. I’m not much of a singer, or dancer, or athlete, or artist, or mathematician, or … or … or … I’m just very … normal.
At times I have looked at others’ great gifts and felt small. But I am learning how pointless and even destructive such comparisons are. More importantly, I have come to see the sacred power of God’s “less conspicuous gifts” and to rejoice in these as evidence of His love and confidence.
Elder Marvin J. Ashton taught that God’s spiritual gifts include those that are “less conspicuous,” including “the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; … the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer.”2
Does this list help you see your gifts in a new light? It helps me.
These quiet gifts do as much to lift God’s children as others that we recognize and celebrate more often3—quiet gifts that help us accomplish our most important purposes in life. But, unfortunately, we sometimes hold back and fail to appreciate or share our gifts, fearing that they are not as polished, perfect, or pretty as we would like.
When we fail to appreciate these less conspicuous gifts, we miss a chance to lift His children—and we miss a chance to feel God’s love.4
Play the Song of Your Gifts
Let me show you another gift—a gift from my Grandpa Lundgren. Grandpa always wanted to play the violin. However, this violin sat unused and dusty on his shelf, and then on mine, for many years—the music in these strings silent.
Compare this to the violin of my six-year-old granddaughter, Scarlett. She has a gift to share with us tonight.
[Scarlett playing the violin]
Thank you, Scarlett. That was beautiful. I love you.
Our gifts from Heavenly Father are meant to be shared. Scarlett’s violin isn’t expensive, and we could find flaws in the instrument or technique, but because she has put her heart into it, she has given a gift and brought joy.
Don’t let God’s gifts to you, even His less conspicuous ones, go unused or unappreciated. Take the gifts He has given you from off the shelf. If you have stored them out of self-doubt, shake off the dust and try. Offer them to God and His children. The gifts we have from our Heavenly Father are meant to be used and shared. All your gifts from God, however imperfect, bring joy and are, when offered to Him, a hymn of praise.
Take your gift of listening with love and visit a lonely friend. Do you have the gift of avoiding contention and of being agreeable? Those gifts have never been more needed. Give them to your family, friends, and neighbors. Tell a wanderer you love them, and invite them to your kitchen table. Teach an inspired lesson. Write a kind note. Use your gifts to reach out and build Zion and build the people around you. God needs all kinds. He’s given all gifts for uplifting His children. Don’t let the music in you go unsung, the hug ungiven, the forgiveness unoffered.
Receiving His Gift
During the Christmas season of 1832, the struggling early Saints faced civil and political unrest. The Prophet Joseph Smith had just prophesied a civil war.5 Now that’s not very cheery.
But on December 27, Joseph received another revelation—a “message of peace” from the Lord.6 In these hard times, the Lord reminded Joseph of the gifts He’d given His Saints—most importantly, the gift of the Savior Jesus Christ and the hope of eternal life.
The way to rejoice that Christmas season was to see and receive God’s gifts—first and foremost of which is the “matchless gift”7 of a Savior. The same is true this Christmas season.
In the revelation Joseph received, the Lord asked him the following question:
“For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.”8
I hope that we can each see and receive the gifts that God has given us—but especially I hope that we can each rejoice in God, the giver of these gifts.
I am grateful for the matchless gift of His Son—a Son who came to earth as a baby, swaddled by a young mother and laid in a manger. A baby who would learn line upon line and grow grace for grace until He laid down His life as an offering for my sins. For your sins. For the sins of all who have ever lived and will ever live on the earth.
We sing the words of a well-loved hymn:
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King!”9
The gift of Jesus the Christ has been given and at what cost! The question is, will we receive Him? Will we let Him in and let Him prevail? How?
I testify that receiving our King and His gifts will bring true joy—joy to the world and joy in the world.
“Thanks be unto God for [the] unspeakable gift”10 of His Son in the holy name of Jesus Christ, amen.