Bob Tamasy: Never Look A Gift Card In The Mouth

Monday, September 25, 2017 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Do you know the most profitable items any retail store can sell? They’re probably gift cards, because often they’re never redeemed. Someone has handed over a chunk of cash to buy someone else a gift they’ll not receive.

It’s estimated that between eight and 10 percent of gift cards go unredeemed. They’re stashed in wallets and forgotten, hidden in drawers, or disposed of accidentally. Every year more than $1 billion in gift cards go unused. That’s a lot of Starbucks coffee, iTunes music and Walmart merchandise never claimed!

Even though we live in a consumer-oriented society, this doesn’t surprise me. I just checked, and I’ve got several unused or only partially used gift cards.
They’re nice to have, but sometimes we lose track of them. Out of sight, out of mind. (However, now that I’ve reminded myself, I plan to use them before they slip my mind again.)

One good thing about a forgotten gift card is stumbling across it. It’s like finding buried treasure. It was there all the time; we just didn’t realize it.

You know what’s worse than unexpended gift cards? Unclaimed or unused gifts from God. In the Scriptures, we read about the gift of salvation, His assurance of eternal life: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The apostle Paul wrote to believers in the ancient city of Corinth, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15). Elsewhere he writes about “God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ…” (Romans 5:15).

Unfortunately, this priceless gift is too often treated like a retail gift card that’s been cast aside. People never tap into its potential value, either through ignorance (they don’t know it’s available), neglect (they’ve forgotten about it), or denial (they choose not to receive the gift to apply it to their credit).

What’s exciting is when an individual does discover this gift, at last understanding its worth and eagerly receiving all it entails. It’s that “Wow!” moment many of us still remember, the start of a transformed life we could never have imagined. Much better than finding a long-forgotten gift card neatly tucked away in the sock drawer!

Salvation – once-and-for-all forgiveness, and the promise of life eternal – isn’t the only gift the Scriptures tell us is available. We read also about spiritual gifts, enumerated in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and other passages. These include the gifts of leadership, teaching, mercy, faith, encouragement, giving, serving, and others. We’re told every follower of Christ has at least one spiritual gift, intended to complement the work and service of other members of God’s family, just as the organs of a human body function together in harmony to promote health. 

Similar to gift cards, however, the availability of spiritual gifts doesn’t guarantee their usefulness. For this reason, Paul repeatedly exhorted his protégé, Timothy, to be a faithful steward of what God had given him. He wrote, “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery [elders of the church]” (1 Timothy 4:14).

In a second letter to Timothy, Paul repeated the challenge: “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands (2 Timothy 1:6). As recipients of gifts from the Lord, we’re to put them into use, making them even more fruitful through practice. 

Failing to utilize a gift card is a sad waste, both for the giver and the recipient. Failure to receive God’s far more precious gift – “…the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23) – as well as the spiritual gifts He entrusts to us to serve in advancing His purposes on earth, is worse than a waste. It’s a tragedy beyond words. 


Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog,, or his website (now being completed), He can be emailed at

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