During the Christmas holidays many people practice a tradition of gift giving. However, there are those who criticize this as materialistic. While the gift giving aspect of the holiday can be characterized by greed and commercialism, I would like to suggest a different way of looking at this practice. Although we know neither the day or season in which God Incarnate came into this world, we do know the scriptures say that God gave His Son, John 3:16.
God gave of Himself in coming down in the” Son of God – the Anointed One” to live among men, to become the true sacrifice of atonement for sin. This was the greatest gift of all. Gift giving by us, at any time of the year, imitates the love and grace of God.
God has given us many gifts. Let’s review some of the gifts God gives to us. It is difficult to talk about just one of these gifts, because they are inter-related. They all flow into each other.
Grace unto Salvation
There is a popular Christmas song that talks about being nice or good as meriting gifts at Christmas time. Yet, God gave the gift of His Son when we were at our worst state; still His gift came from His love and good intent to us.
- “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
- “For at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6
- “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5
I am very drawn to this next passage since it shows that God’s grace was not just an afterthought. God did not just give something to give it; nor did He re-gift something. God did not impulsively or on the spur of the moment get and give this gift. But He deliberately chose to give this gift; carefully planned and worked through time the giving of this gift of grace. This makes me feel especially loved and provided for.
“He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”
2 Timothy 1:9
Grace into His presence
Through the gift of God’s Son Jesus, we receive the gift of coming into the presence of God. We can come before “God Most High, God Almighty” in the grace that Jesus gives us.
- “But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah.” Ephesians 2:13
- “In Him (Jesus) and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Ephesians 3:12
- “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Romans 5:1-2
Not only are we given the gift of coming into His presence, but His presence actually abides in us. What a gift! God allows us to share in His divine nature. This is a mind blowing truth.
- “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
2 Peter 1:3-4
- “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Acts 2:38-39
The Gift of Peace
Jesus has come to give us peace; peace within our hearts; peace within our relationships with others and peace between us and God.
- “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!” John 16:33
- “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” Romans 5:1
- “God was pleased to have all of himself live in Christ. God was also pleased to bring everything on earth and in heaven back to himself through Christ. He did this by making peace through Christ’s blood sacrificed on the cross. Once you were separated from God. The evil things you did showed your hostile attitude. But now Christ has brought you back to God by dying in his physical body. He did this so that you could come into God’s presence without sin, fault, or blame.” Col.1:19-22
The Gift of Joy
Most people pursue happiness. Who does not want to be happy? Even the Declaration of Independence of the United States claims that the pursuit of happiness is an unalienable right of every human being.
God gives us more that circumstantial happiness, He provides a true deep, abiding joy. This joy remains, even when there are difficulties in our life. This joy is given to us, a gift through Jesus.
- “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:10-12
- “Although you’ve never seen Him, you love Him. Even though you don’t see Him now, you trust Him and so rejoice with a glorious joy that is too much for words. You are receiving the goal of your faith: your salvation.” 1 Peter 1:8-9
Gifts to Treasure
There are many gifts given to us from God. You can probably name some right now. Over this holiday season take some time out and meditate on the gifts that God has given us in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Take time to give God due thanks and praise for the good gifts He has given you, in much the same way you would thank your friend or relative for that special gift they gave you.
After the holidays, as you move into the new year, establish the habit of reading the Word of God daily. As you read look for the treasures God has given you.