I wasn’t sure what I was shopping for this year. Usually, I have a plan well underway prior to the “shopping season.” But this year, I didn’t have a clue. So, sitting at a hockey game, I came right out and asked the question. “What do all of you want for Christmas?” Slowly, ideas came. But living in a land of plenty, the list was not composed of needs, but wants. Things that would be nice but are not essential to life at all.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way – in all your speaking and in all your knowledge – because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. I Corinthians 1:3-9 (NIV emphasis mine)
May all the gifts and benefits that come from God our Father, and the Master, Jesus Christ, be yours. Every time I think of you – and I think of you often! – I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There’s no end to what has happened in you – it’s beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives. Just think – you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that. I Corinthians 1:3-9 (MSG emphasis mine)
Physical gifts, the things I can hold in my hand, those are nice. They remind me that I’m loved by people I know and care about. But the spiritual gifts – the provisions that my heavenly Father has made for me – those are life altering.
Which type of gifts do I value more? Which ones rank higher on the importance scale?
There’s something about a tangible item that is easier to understand. I can see it. I can feel it. It holds worth because I know it’s physically there. But of how much greater worth are the gifts the Father has lavished on me? These are gifts I cannot see with my eyes. But these gifts change absolutely everything. They change my destiny. They affect my eternity. They defy my understanding.
Gift 1: I have His presence. My God is the God who wants to be known. He is completely relational. From the beginning of time, He has existed in community – God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He created man in His image. He walked with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden as a man walks with his friend. While He has been accused of being far off and removed from what He made, my God is the God who wants to be known by His creation. He is the One who wants me to know Him. To see Him all around me. To sense where He is moving and to join Him in that call and that purpose. This is the God who didn’t stay far away remotely watching what He had created, but He came near, He moved in next door. He is close. He is closer than the air I breathe. He is with me!
Gift 2: I am His child. My God is the purpose giver. Without Him, what reason do I have? Without Him, what is worth pursuing? He desires me to be in relationship with Him. Just as parents interact with their children, my Father delights to be with me. He chose me. I didn’t choose Him on my own. My sinful nature, my eyes veiled to true reality, would not have pursued a relationship with God except for His Spirit stirring in me. My adoption into God’s family was an incredible act of His love poured out for me. He longs for me to snuggle in. Tucked in close. Feeling His heart beat with love for me. His love is deeper and wider than I can ever imagine or understand. My Father’s love is constantly lavished on me as He reveals Himself in Jesus Christ – the One who sacrificed His life so I could have mine.
Gift 3: I am forgiven. My God is the restorer. On my own, I am far from Him. I sin. I fall short of His magnificent glory. I look at the world through glasses made dirty by the gunk of my life. But, my God knew that I would try to do the right thing. I would attempt to live right, but I would still fail all the time. I can’t measure up on my own. Instead, because He is full of mercy and grace, my God is the One who reaches out. He sends His perfect Son to take my most horrid consequence. His Son dies in my place. And in raising Jesus back to life, death is conquered. The price is paid. I am brought into relationship with the One who formed me and loves me best. I still sin. But because of my relationship as God’s child, God the Father sees that the payment for my sin is paid in full. I’m forgiven. Washed clean. Made new. No longer who I was, but fully transformed.
The physical gifts under the tree – the wrapping is lovely. The gifts are great. But the gifts I have in Christ – those defy my understanding. They change my trajectory. They give hope. I am more loved than I can ever know.
God, I pray for a heart sensitive to You! Your gifts are beyond what I could ever understand. Thank you for being the Gift Giver who is lavishly generous. Thank you for pouring out your gifts to me! May my heart overflow with gratitude and love back to you! Amen.