The Greatest Gift of Them All
The Greatest Gift of Them All
“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them...if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” - Romans 13:6-8
Writing this piece in the last week of November, I’m amazed at the Christmas preparation already about. Looking on the internet, there is a full menu of Christmas discussion, stories and lessons. One that caught my attention was a cost analysis of each item from the song, Twelve Days of Christmas. Believe it or not, the grand total of the items on the list comes to a whopping total of $170,609.40 to purchase all of the items in the quantities mentioned! The writer pointed out that it was important to note that some of the items on the list are affordable, while others are prohibitively expensive. Here are some examples: A partridge in a pear tree would cost $220.13; two turtle doves would cost $375.00 each and six geese-a-laying would cost $390 each. Now to the high ticket items: Eleven pipers piping adds $2808.40 each to the bottom line and twelve drummers drumming at the union rate would cost another $3038.10 each. Triple that cost when you add in the ten lords a leaping at $10,000 each, if you can even find them!
I bring these humorous statistics up to illustrate a point about giving during the Christmas season. One blogger noted that the giving of gifts at Christmas is not sanctioned in the Bible, and that the season to be jolly often is a time to be stressed and not jolly. Maybe it’s time to re-examine what we plan to give and the gifts we have already received We can approach giving in two ways.
Let’s start with the gift we have received: Jesus Christ. God’s greatest gift to the world came in humble wrappings. Picture a poor child being born in an occupied land, sleeping in a feeding trough, while the palatial palace of the earthly king, Herod, loomed over Jerusalem several miles away. The contrast is a stunning reminder of earthly values versus heavenly ones. Yet this gift was one that God had planned before the foundation of time. Too often we rush through the familiar story and fail to comprehend the depth of love that God had for us, His creation, in sending Jesus Christ. How do we understand Jesus leaving the Father’s side to enter this world as fully man and fully God? Consider Paul’s words to the church in Philippi: “Jesus Christ did not consider equality with God as something to be used to his own advantage.” Is this unselfish love the basis of our giving? The depth of God’s love is brought into perspective when we realize that prior to the cross and resurrection, we were enemies with God! When was the last time you gave a gift to your enemy? Based on this depth of love, have we said “thank you” to God for he gift of Jesus Christ through our worship, giving and service?
Now let’s look at our gifts received and what we do with them. In Romans 13, the apostle Paul is addressing this very subject. The first distinction is the kind of gifts received. Did you notice material things we value and cherish are distinctly absent? In their place are spiritual gifts aimed at furthering the kingdom of God through service to others. Paul implies that all of our talents and gifts come from God. Not everyone receives the same gift, but each gift is important for us as the Body of Christ.
This Christmas season is a time of preparation for a new life in Christ. It is a time to change our priorities, expectations and outcomes. But Christmas is not just a “season.” It is only the beginning. It is preparation for a new year with new values and new attitudes that are born from above, values which are all kingdom focused. Prepare your hearts to receive the new born king as we travel to Bethlehem and beyond!