It’s that time of the year again when gift giving is on the minds of most: What to give and to whom, how much to give, and a myriad of other questions. But the least-asked question is maybe the most important one of all: Why to give?
It is a wise saying that “you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” Possibly the most-oft quoted verse in the Bible, John 3:16, says that “For God so loved the world that He gave….” God spoke the world into existence; populated it with all kinds of life and beauty; then made man in His own image—with intelligence, volition, and emotion—and charged Adam with keeping the breathtaking Garden of Eden. His only prohibition was that he must not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the garden. Man disobeyed and sin entered the world, along with death by sin, “right off the bat” so to speak.
What to do? Well, from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8) God drew up a master plan that included the redemption and reconciliation of sinful, sin-plagued mankind. John 3:16 again: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God so loved that He gave—and what He gave was His life-giving, only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. What matchless love! What an unspeakable gift.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Eternal life? Yes, life that is everlasting and in that sense eternal. But it is so much more than everlasting. Jesus, praying to His Father on the way to Calvary, defined eternal life: “And this is life eternal, that they may know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” (John 17:3). So, the gift of God that is eternal life is a gift that enables all believers to know God, their creator, in a personal way. We can know the true God—that He is our creator. A god made of stones or clay or wood is no god. Our God is personal; we can know Him and we can know His Son, Jesus Christ, personally. That is a gift that is beyond our finite capacity to comprehend! A personal knowledge of— and relationship with—the God who spoke the world into existence is the gift of God to us! You will be trying to “wrap your head around” that fact until you finally give up the ghost!
God’s gift is not only an eternal gift, it is an irrevocable gift! He will never take it back. It is given according to His promise, and Paul says that we hold to this gift “in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began.” (Tit.1:2) God cannot lie. What He promises He produces, and to all who believe and receive the gift of God He gives eternal life.
God’s gift is given freely, for salvation is the “gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8,9) In this Ephesians passage, Paul uses just about every superlative he can to describe the gift and the giver: “rich in mercy…for His great love…exceeding riches of His grace…His kindness toward us.” (Eph. 2:4-7) He also certifies that this gift is “heavenly.” We are made to “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” That is all part and parcel of this “unspeakable gift” for which we give thanks unto God.” (2 Cor. 9:15)
No wonder, then, that when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s gift to us by grace through faith, we give gifts! It is a spontaneous reaction to the realization of the truth of God’s gift to this fallen race. People give gifts in celebrating. So, this Christmas season, as we plan, purchase and participate in gift-giving, let us keep the right perspective and always remember that it is because of His gift to us that we want to give gifts—in and through and because of His love—to others. May He be honored in our giving of gifts in commemoration of His unspeakable gift.
“What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I’d give Him a lamb; if I were a wise-man, I’d do my part. What can I give Him? I’ll give Him my heart.” (Christina Rosetti)
“Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.” (2 Cor. 9:15)