I am sure there are others on this list who have been to mission fields where one must be careful when making comments of praise when in homes. I had been told to be careful with praise when in Ukrainians’ homes. If you make a highly praised comment about a picture or item of clothing you just may leave with that item. It is considered proper hospitality to offer something the guest finds attractive or interesting. And it is taken as an insult if you refuse to take it.
On my second trip to Ukraine I was invited to a non-Christian’s home. This young couple had met me on my first trip. They had even named their first child after me (I still do not understand that one…). They lived in a very small apartment. It had 2 rooms. They had very little earthly possessions. They were so excited that I accepted their invitation and had prepared a wonderful meal. While the wife was serving our soup, I noticed she was using one of those very colorful painted spoons that you normally see in gift shops or as decoration on walls. I made a comment that it was the first time I had seen such a spoon used. She asked me if I thought it was pretty. I acknowledged that I did indeed find such spoons beautiful. When I was preparing to leave their home, the woman brought me the spoon and told me it was now mine. I told her that I never intended to give her the idea that I wanted the spoon (she only had one more). She insisted I take it as thanks for being in their home. While I wanted to argue and refuse the spoon I knew I could not without insulting them. I treasure that spoon as much as anything I have ever obtained overseas.
Our Lord physically visited our world. He lived as a man so that he might die as a man for our sins. What do we give him as thanks? Does the gift of the non-Christian Ukrainian woman make our gifts of thanks appear small and trite?