I’ve always loved the parables that Jesus told, and appreciated that each time I read them I receive a different lesson or even a repeated lesson that helps me in my daily walk with Christ. Over the years I’ve even received inspiration to write a parable or two and so I may share some of those here. This one is a parable that came to me around Christmas time as I watched my youngest daughter and my granddaughter open their gifts. I hope you enjoy reading it and that it blesses your soul for the Lord. Here it is…
Parable of the Two Boxes
There once was a man who came to his door each day with thoughts of what the day would hold. Each day he would look out hoping for a blessing, but usually all he saw was a beggar woman, homeless, dirty, and begging for a handout. Each day he yelled out at the woman to leave his yard because she made his beautiful home look worse. He did not care for her needs in any way.
Then one day when he opened the door the man noticed two gift wrapped packages lying on his doorstep. Each was addressed to the resident of the house. He noticed that one box was very large, and one was quite a bit smaller. The smaller package was wrapped in a plain brown colored wrapping, and looked quite beat up. It was tied with simple twine, and was torn a bit exposing the plain brown box underneath. The smaller package looked dirty as if it had been drug through the mud. The second package, which was huge compared to the other, was wrapped in the shiniest red paper which was adorned with beautiful golden crosses on it. It had a golden ribbon stretched around all four sides and was topped with a big, beautiful golden bow and streamers of golden ribbon.
The man also received a card with the two packages. When he opened it, he noticed a simple set of instructions that he needed to follow. The man was instructed to choose between the two packages. He could only have one for himself, and the other package would then be taken and given to someone else at a later time.
The man set the card down and decided to take a good look at the two boxes before he made his choice, even though one glance at the packages had already influenced his decision of which one seemed more pleasing to take. Looking at the smaller gift, he was already disgusted and did not want to lift it at all. It was filthy, torn, and couldn’t hold anything of value by the looks of it. The man could tell that it had a rough journey getting there, and whatever was in it was probably broken from the abuse it received. It looked old, and he figured it must have been rejected many times in the past. Why should he choose something no one else seem to want either?
The second box, however, was quite appealing to the man. He is filled with excitement just thinking of the treasure this grand box must hold. The box looked brand new, as did the wrapping. The man thought this must be the first time it had been offered to anyone, and was honored that he had been the chosen recipient. He reveled in the fact that it was so grandly wrapped, thinking that something so beautifully wrapped must be expensive. He felt encouraged by the appearance of the golden crosses, no one surely would put anything in a package that bore the mark of God. Surely the person who gifted it was a good person who believed in God, and would do him no ill. How was he going to choose which package he wanted?
He chided himself for wanting to choose the beautiful one too quickly. He must look as if he really put some thought into the process.
The man decided he would shake the packages. This will make the neighbors think I found the smaller to be broken. He picked up the smaller gift, feeling disgusted at the feel of the dirt on the outside. He made a mental note to wash his hands as soon as he returned inside with his chosen box. When he shook the box, the man was not surprised to hear a rattle because he expected that whatever it held was already broken. He quickly put the box down, not giving it another thought. The man than lifted the larger box, which he thought was extremely heavy and unbalanced. It must contain more than one thing, he thought. He was surprised to hear the large box rattle as well, but thought to himself that it must contain coins or jewels that were banging together as he shook it. He knew than this was the perfect box for him, but the man thought he still must look as if he was being thoughtful about his choice. Who knows, the giver might be watching him? The man thought, maybe if I appear to have taken great measures to choose the one gift, the giver might in the future bestow another gift of great value on him for his efforts.
After a few moments of posturing himself as if thinking seriously about both packages, the man, knowing which gift was perfect for him reached down to pick it up and carry it into him house. He knew this was the perfect gift and had everything going for it from beautiful packaging, to having the mark of godliness upon it. It offered him the greatest possibilities of security and hope, and the promises of only the best and richest of treasures. Quickly he picked up the second, more ornate box, and turned to take it into his house. As he turned though, the man used the heel of his foot to boot the smaller box off his porch and into the front yard, causing it to land with a hard thud onto a dirt patch in front of his home, the dirt patch where the homeless woman sat day in and day out. That homeless woman just arriving to her usual spot grew excited at the gift that lay where she usually spent her time seeking a little help to get her through her rough life.
The man could not wait to get his gift opened. He thought about ripping off the wrapping, but then he didn’t want to ruin it, after all it looked expensive. Knowing he could always save himself some money later by reusing this wrapping, the man slowing removed the ribbon and bow, then opened each taped edge even slower as to not rip any of the edges. He wanted to preserve the wrapping so no one in the future would be able to tell that it was reused gift wrap. The man was surprised to see that the box under the wrapping was just as wonderful as the paper itself. He just knew that the gift inside must be very special for the giver to spend so much to cover it up. So the man again took his time to open the box, preserving it as new for later use. If anything when he shared with his family the gift he was given, he could show them how wonderfully it had been wrapped. They would surely think he was someone special to have received such an expensive and wonderful gift.
Meanwhile the homeless woman, having nothing but struggles throughout her life, opened up the smaller, rejected gift. She had such meager possessions that even though the gift was battered and beat up she held it in her arms as if it was the greatest treasure ever found. Quickly, the woman tore off the twine and the brown wrapping paper, and ripped open the lid of the box. The box inside was not a struggle to open because it was just as beaten up as the wrappings that once covered it. It, too, carried the markings of a long, hard journey. At the sight of the worn wrapping paper and box, the woman felt a kinship with the package. Her journey through life had been a difficult one also. Both she and the package had been misunderstood, tossed aside by the world, and mistreated by so many in their past. Before looking inside the woman lifted the box into her arms again and pulled it close to her, she hugged it as if to let it know that she understood and the woman promised to treasure this gift forever because of what it had been through just to be given to her.
The woman thought to herself, “I’m not worthy of this gift, but I will accept it because it must have been meant to help me…maybe even to save me from my hard existence.”
The woman, feeling a great surge of hope and mercy, slowly lifted the lid of the box to peer inside. She showed great respect, love and compassion for this gift that had travelled a similar journey to her own. Now finally it had come into her life, so she could possess and care for all that it held for her.
Two different people, two different gifts being opened and possessed fully by their owners. One gift in brightly ornate, expensively decorated wrapping. The other gift bashed up, and wrapped in dirty, torn, bruised wrappings. Two new owners of the gifts, one entranced by the outer adornment of his gift, and the other treasuring the kinship she feels with her gift because of the similarities of what they both had gone through to get to this point where they are together. You might be wondering what was in each gift when they finally opened up the boxes, well let me tell you.
The woman’s box contained a simple, warm blanket, a wool coat, a pair of shoes, a loaf of bread, and a canteen of water. It also contained a letter with the promise to the new owner of a mansion waiting for them at the end of a journey they must take to get to know the sender of the gift. The letter gave them directions on where to go to find the sender and a map to follow, with instructions that the items in the box would be helpful for the trip. The woman quickly put on the shoes, packed up the box, and started on the journey. She knew that she couldn’t leave the box behind, that this journey they would make together and it would be a joyous time for both of them. At the end they would meet the sender and thank him for bringing them together.
The man’s gift, however, did not contain the same things as the woman’s gift had held. As the man opened his gift, his excitement had grown. His thoughts varied from wanting to share the gift to not wanting anyone to touch his great treasure. With each time he moved the gift to undo its trappings, it would rattle, and with each rattle he heard the man just knew that this must be something of great wealth and value just for him. With each thought the man’s self-pride grew, and puffing his chest out, he thought what a special man he must be for someone to send him such a valuable gift. Even more now he could not wait to hold the treasure in his hand. How the world would look upon the man’s greatness for the treasure from this gift that now he possessed. The man closed his eyes as he lifted the lid and reached into the box, wanting not to see it until the treasure actually lay in his hands. Seconds after reaching into the box the man dropped to the floor, and breathed his last breath. He left the world with a look of fear, regret, and horror. Around his body, and from the open box slithered the most dangerous and poisonous snakes of the world. The treasure that he coveted most, turned out to be the thing that would end his life. He had been a fool for the grand outer adornment of the promised gift.
The moral of this story is based on an old, but wise cliche’…”You can’t judge a gift by its cover.” Jesus, God’s greatest gift to us, came in a simple stable, laid in a crudely built manger, and walked on dusty roads to share God’s love with all who would hear. He was beaten, mocked, bruised, rejected, and died on an old rugged cross. Jesus was buried in a cold, dark tomb, and rose from the dead to return to heaven to prepare a place for all who would believe in him, and come to treasure their relationship with him. Jesus walked our same roads, journeyed through the struggles and trials of life on earth, just as we have, and came so that we would not have to struggle alone anymore. With Christ comes a future for us eternally in heaven. He has given us directions and a map to follow that will lead us to him and the mansion he is preparing for us in his kingdom. All we have to do is accept him as our Savior and Lord. Have you asked him for forgiveness of your sins, and asked him to cleanse you from that which covers your soul with filth? Are you willing to trust him to help you through the trials and tribulations of life?
In this world there will be many who come to us like the ornate gift the man received. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing, saying they know what God really wants for you, that there are many paths to heaven, that God will take everyone to heaven no matter how much you sin or even if you don’t believe. These charlatans will promise you the world, riches, wealth and fame, and they will set all kinds of temptations before you. But beware these are all false promises. They may seem beautiful from the outside, but inside they are just the trappings of Satan, the great evil serpent from the Garden of Eden. They will lure you in with the beauty of the promises and then snatch your life away with the deception they deliver once you are involved in them. In the end they will leave you with nothing but an eternity of fiery Hell, and a death mask showing regret, shock, and even horror for the world to see, all earned from the choices you made out of lust, greed, and vanity. Now which choice really is the best for you?