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Every Good Gift
By Mary Craig
Catalogs. My mailbox is full of them lately. Just today merchants were hawking everything from gadgets to clothes to computer necessities to nuts & fruits & popcorn to all those trinkets and treasures that end up one day at yard sales and thrift shops. All good gifts. Great gifts, say some. All sizes, all colors, all costing differing amounts of money. It could get maddening, maniacal, mesmerizing. It could make one miserable instead of merry.
We all have so many expectancies at this time of year. We want everything to be perfect. We want to give good gifts to our families and friends. We want to do good and share and capture "the spirit of Christmas" that has been so commercialized of late. We don't want to disappoint or be disappointed. But sometimes the surprises in the stockings leave us speechless…and we just hope the camcorder isn't rolling to capture the look on our faces! Daddies just smile and say, "thank you, son." Mommies scurry off to the kitchen after a polite, "you shouldn't have." Boys and girls search every nook and cranny for what they secretly wanted but didn't tell anybody about. The whole room can be full of gifts and toys and even food and people, but if he isn't there…if she isn't there…it can mean nothing.
The hipe, the hurry, the have-to-get-them-something, the hopes, the homecomings. It's all part of the season. Oh, I forgot the scurry of little feet. Not just toddlers…kittens and puppies and who knows what or how or when that tree came crashing down! Yes, we all have our memories of Christmas…like the time our tires were stolen off our car in the church parking lot on Christmas Eve, and the time we returned from the Christmas Eve service to find that Morkie, our Sheltie, had consumed an entire box of truffles, Stephen's special joy. Then there were all those moments of Jim putting this bike together or that toy together, and me hoping the dinner would time out just so.
Christmas can be fun or frenetic. Gifts can be your duty or your delight. It's really all a matter of attitude and motive. Keeping a sense of humor helps. Remembering Jesus Owns You raises you to that joy you want and need.
It is love's joy to give. When you can't find a parking space, when there isn't a salesclerk to be found, when the mall's a mob scene, when you don't know what to give someone…remember. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created. (James 1.17, 18)
The Father, God, so loved the world, this cosmos, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3.16) Good news, people, about a truly good gift. At just the right time in history, Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Remember those shepherds and what the angel of the Lord said to them? "Do not be afraid. I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be for all people." (Luke 2.10) A Savior had been born, Christ the Lord. Just like Isaiah had prophesied, a virgin had given birth to a Son whose name would be Immanuel, i.e., God with us. (Isaiah 7.14) This glad news, this great joy, this event that should fill our hearts with happiness and delight and warm fuzzies is what we are celebrating. Yes, it is a celebration, a time of praise, a time of glorifying the Giver for this good and perfect gift come down from the Father of Lights.
He not only gave His Son, but He chose to give us birth through the word of truth. What were we before? Nicodemus couldn't figure out what kind of birth this was. After all, you only had to look at yourself to see you are already born. I am born. What's this? Well, this is a spiritual birth, a being born again, a being born of the Word and of the Spirit of God. (John 3) This is a gift, a good and perfect gift. "For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest no man should boast." (Ephesians 2.8, 9) God gives the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that people may know Him better (Ephesians 1.17) God grants repentance leading people to a knowledge of the truth that they may come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2.25, 26) God gives the Holy Spirit to all who ask Him. (Luke 11.13)
God gives good and perfect gifts, gifts money can't buy. (Acts 8.18-20) He gives a spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1.7) Grace, mercy, and peace come from God the Father and Christ Jesus the Lord. Jesus gives us His peace, not just the absence of hostility, but that shalom, that sense of well being, that healthy state of wholeness. (John 14.27) God gives eternal life. (Romans 6.23)
It is in the light of what God has given us in Christ Jesus that we give to others. His grace enables us to give tokens of love, things like friendship, understanding, consideration, a helping hand, a smile, prayers, blessings, a good word of encouragement, just "being there." Love others deeply and without hypocrisy. Love from the heart, not with the intent to manipulate or exploit others or expect favor for favor, but cheerfully, seeking not your own interests, but others'. Offer hospitality without grumbling. Yes, meet the physical needs, for the scriptures are clear that true religion is looking after orphans and widows and keeping oneself from being polluted by the world.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything. (1 John 3.16-20, NIV)
Give to others in the spirit of love, which will bring life and joy and peace and mercy and grace. Give cheerfully, with gladness in your heart. Give graciously. Give of your substance and yourself.
But what about giving Jesus a gift? What do you give someone who really does have everything? What are His expectations? What is He desirous of receiving? He dwells in a high and holy place. (Isaiah 57.15) Yes, and He also dwells with the one that is of a contrite and humble spirit.
While we're all rushing around in the busyness of the season, let's take time to focus on godliness. While we get the decorations out and go through the habits of tradition, let's also get out of ourselves and go through the dimensions of our hearts.
Anyone can give Jesus and His Father delight by giving seven good gifts from the heart:
1. Humility. Humble yourself before the Almighty, for the humble heart finds grace. (James 4.6)
2. Brokenness. Surrender your will so that every response is under the control of the Holy Spirit. Agree with God's perspective on all points and acknowledge your need. Bear burdens with compassion. Terminate hostility toward God and simply do what He says. Yield to Him as God only Wise. (Isaiah 66.2)
3. Repentance. Let godly sorrow for sin work repentance (2 Corinthians 7.10) Those who mourn, who are poor in spirit, who are meek, who have godly sorrow over grieving God with sin, with hearts full of idolatry and unbelief and greed, will be blessed. Learn to hate what God hates and love what God loves. Jesus was anointed with the oil of gladness above all His fellows because He loved righteousness and hated iniquity. (Hebrews 1.9)
4. Honor. Believe God after you believe in God. He is just to forgive sin and to cleanse from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1.9) Honor Him by receiving His gracious gifts gladly and by giving freely what you have been given freely.
5. Liberty. Let Him have His way in your life. Walk in the freedom of relationship with Jesus. Let His grace be your strength. Become so conscious of the presence of Jesus that you forget yourself, your history. Let your history become His story. He adores you. He delights in you. He was filled with joy as He went to the cross to die for your sins. (Hebrews 12.2) Let His delight release you from the prisons of your own and others' making. Many things pale in importance when we realize that Jesus meets the deepest needs of our soul and touches us at the place of our leprosy.
6. Loyalty. Love as you have been loved by God. Be loyal to Him, devoted, confessing Him before others without shame for the good gifts He has given you. Obey His commands with joy in your heart because you are loved with joy in His heart. (Zephaniah 3.17) Transcend the days.
7. Adoration. Adore Him. "O come let us adore Him." Worship Him. The word is a squeezing together of the words "worth" and "ship." He is worthy, of great value, a good and perfect gift given to us. The One who loves you is worthy. That is your image…what you should see in the mirror each day. He has chosen to give you birth through the word of truth.
We give gifts at Christmas because the spirit of Christmas is the Spirit of Christ, given as a gift. The Father gave His only and unique Son, the Word made flesh. His Son, Jesus, gave Himself. And as God is Spirit, the Father and the Son sent forth the Holy Spirit as the gift of God. The best gift you can give is yourself.
© 2000 Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.
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