Monday, December 21, 2009

The Greatest Gift

I'm sure with Christmas coming this week, most of us are considering the gifts we plan to give, and quite possibly the one's we might receive. Now that I am officially, according to my daughters, old, I find myself thinking about Christmas' past, and the memories I have about them. As I thought this past week, I was struck by how many times I remember receiving a gift much larger, or more expensive than I expected and my feelings when I realized that my gift in return was probably not as nice as the one I received. There were also a few occasions when I received a gift from someone that I did not expect, and felt bad for not getting them one in return. To be sure, our giving should not be measured by the dollar amount we paid, but I think we all can sympathize with the feeling that at times we may have received more than we gave in return.

As you might expect, at this time of year it is more than likely you will hear the words "greatest gift" applied to the birth of Jesus as the Saviour of the world, as well you should. Yet the more I thought about it, the more I wondered what feelings God may have had before making His decision to give such a gift to a sinful, unbelieving world. So let me share with you just a few things that crossed my mind while thinking about God's Greatest Gift.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 NKJV

Why did God give? Because He loved. At this time of year I'm sure most of us would have to confess that all the gifts we give are given to loved ones. Of course, that would probably be defined as family, friends, and those we have special feelings for. Yet God gave to the world, all of mankind, including those who have chosen, and will choose to reject Him! I'm sure something we all have in common is making a list of just who we plan on giving to, and just what we plan to give. Yet it is obvious God chose not to make a list, but rather to give to everyone. Now I think most of us would have to admit we would find it hard to give to someone we knew did not like us, or even hated us, yet even though God knew the majority of the world would reject His gift, He chose to give it anyway. Thinking about that made me wonder if I would be willing to give without reservation to people I knew wanted nothing to do with me. If I am to love as God has, and we have been commanded to do so, I should have no hesitancy at all to do just that.

What did God give? Obviously the most precious gift He possibly could, and that was the life of His own Son, Jesus Christ. I'm sure I'm not alone in taking time after making the list to think carefully about what I plan to give, or how much I intend to spend on the gift for that particular person. Yet there was no hesitation on God's part to give the greatest gift He could. Now as a father with three daughters, this one really got to me. If you were to ask them, I'm sure they would readily admit I was the most overly protective father around. There wasn't much of anything I wouldn't do for them, and not a whole of anything I would let them do. I'm sure they grew tired of looking over their shoulders as they grew up to see if I was watching. School functions, social activities, you name it, I was around, and fortunately for you, time and space prevent me from talking about dating. Now that was a special time. So to even consider the possibility that I could be put in a position to choose to sacrifice one of my own, I really don't think I could do that under any condition. Do you think God had to think about it, or did He make that decision without any hesitation at all?

Who did God give to? All of mankind. Us. Me. I don't know about you, but let me talk about me. A sinner. Someone who probably doesn't even deserve coal in my stocking, much less a gift like the one I received from the God of this universe. I don't even want to consider the possibility of losing one of my daughters yet God had only one Son, and He gave Him for me. Now here is where I start thinking about what could I possibly give to God that carries as much value as the gift He gave me? Unfortunately, I live with the knowledge that I can never give God anything that will compare with what He gave me no matter how hard I may try.

One of the things I think of when I remember Christmas with my daughters is that I never cared at all what they gave me. No matter what it was, no matter how small, it was enough to know they loved me enough to want to give. All those years when I agonized over the "perfect" gift for each of them, my only thought was to make them happy and the thought of what I might get in return never even crossed my mind. Did God consider what He would get in return when He made the decision to give His own Son to us? I really rather doubt that. God chose to give the most precious thing He had as a gift to us, without thought of return. Yet we can make a decision to give God a gift in return, and I think that is the message for all of us as believers to consider at this time of the year. Have you given God the most precious gift you can in return, or are you holding back? My prayer is that all of us choose to give Him everything we can, and spare ourselves the embarrassment of knowing we could have given more, but didn't.

If you have never made the decision to give your life to Christ, I would encourage you to do that right now. Confess your sin to God, ask for His forgiveness, and invite Him to come into your life and accept the greatest gift of all, eternal life with Him.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.
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