Glancing over my Christmas list, I notice two giant question marks beside a few names on the list. You might not be surprised to hear that those question marks represent the total mystery to me of how to shop for the men in my family! Nevertheless, each year, I include them in my search for the perfect gifts. I listen for the "I really want this" comments, search the sites, read the blogs, and scavenge the malls for those ideally sincere gifts. I make a list, check it twice, and set out on my hunt. I love giving gifts and I often spend a lot of time trying to find the perfect ones, as I'm sure many do. Gift giving is a small way to show thoughtfulness and intention to those we love. But the truth of the matter is, that after all of the efforts, and even with the most satisfying responses, the gifts become used and forgotten over time. Then, the next Christmas rolls around, and we start all over again looking for the greatest gifts to give.
The desire to give is a good thing and a way that we image God. He is the Perfect Giver, and we get to reflect Him in our generosity towards others. But, in the middle of our gift buying efforts, there's something we can't miss here. There's one big, blaring reason why the Christmas season is not dependent on getting the most quintessential gifts for our loved ones. The central message of Christmas is that the Perfect Giver has already given the perfect gift - Jesus Christ.
In Luke 2, we read about the coming of a gift that was promised by God for centuries. The entrance of this gift to the world, doesn't look like we might've imagined. It doesn't come with a grand entrance in a worldly sense, but the implications of this gift would surpass all wonders. Joseph and his fianc√© Mary, were told in a dream that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and give her a child (Luke 1:35). This would be no ordinary child, but the Holy One, the Son of God, the Savior of the world. I can only assume this would have been a terrifying and humbling thing to hear! But even so, Mary submitted her life in obedience to the Lord, to carry this gift into the world.
The stage set for Jesus' birth is the essence of humility - hidden in a stable, and cradled in a feeding trough. A baby so small with a mission so large. In a moment of birth, Heaven and earth collided, God the Son became an infant, and majesty entered meekly into the world.
Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord." We are a fallen humanity. Because of sin entering into the world, we have become separated from our relationship with a holy God - in an earthly and eternal sense. The conjunction in this verse that follows a hopeless situation, reveals a God who offers us another way to Him outside of our own righteousness. "But the gift of God," is that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16) to live a perfect life, take our place on the cross, and be raised from the dead. Jesus was sent to pay the penalty for our sin, and He was the only one who could do it. In Christ, not only are our debts paid, but through His resurrection, we have a living and eternal hope! Because Jesus is seated at the right hand of God as our mediator, we have access to God forever!
The birth of Jesus Christ was the manifestation of God's great and glorious plan of redemption. He spoke through the prophets about the appointed time of His birth, and God's people had been anxiously waiting. Can you imagine the expectation? We see the promise of Jesus woven throughout the Old Testament. It carries through generations of families, multiple rulers and kings, and the rise and fall of many nations. God held fast to His plan and continually reminded His people of what was to come. He knew His matchless and marvelous gift would be worth it all.
Can you comprehend how much God loves and cares for His people to go to such an extent to gift us with Jesus? It is unfathomable! God knew what His people needed and He gave it to them. God is the Perfect Giver and He will always give perfectly. The gift of Jesus Christ is living proof of this. Romans 8:32 says, "He did not even spare his own Son but offered him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything?" Should we ever doubt if God has given us all that we need, may we come straight back to the birth of Jesus Christ. This was not only a gift enjoyed by those present at the time, but a gift that would be enjoyed by all who believe in Him as their Lord and Savior for generations to come. He would hang in shame so that we might stand in His honor. He would be covered in blood so that we might be clothed in His righteousness. He would bear thorns so that we might wear His crown.
The truth of Jesus should be the gift we give most generously this Christmas season. Our well-intentioned gifts, wrapped in patterned paper and topped with a bow, can be presented with a message. We have a concentrated opportunity every December to draw our hearts and attention beyond the gifts. We have the chance to share that these gifts are such a small display of love, but God gives much more generously! His gift was the greatest display of love for us by gifting us with His Son. We are offered the occasion to give in such a way that points others to the Ultimate Giver with the most lasting gifts. We can be intentional in this season of giving, to marvel most at the gift of Jesus Christ, both in giving and receiving gifts. Let us designate time to praise God as our perfect Giver, instead of seeking to be praised for the gifts we give. May we be intentional to open our Bibles before opening our gifts. Ultimately, this Christmas season, may our eyes not be fixed on what lies under the tree, but on what lay in the manger and the lasting joy it would bring to all who would receive it.