Monday, November 26, 2018
Romans 5:12-17 (NLT) What a contrast between Adam and Christ, who was yet to come! And what a difference between our sin and God’s generous gift of forgiveness. For this one man, Adam, brought death to many through his sin. But this other man, Jesus Christ, brought forgiveness to many through God’s bountiful gift. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but we have the free gift of being accepted by God, even though we are guilty of many sins. The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over us, but all who receive God’s wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.
It’s started. The holiday hype has begun. Every day the newspaper is filled with high quality color advertisements filled with ridiculous prices on several items to lure you into the stores and spend more money than you planned. The stores are filled with must have items, from gift ideas to the latest in holiday decorations for the home. Literally billions of dollars will be spent in America alone during the 37 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is the season of giving gifts as an expression of love, or at least it’s supposed to be.
The emphasis that is placed on the value of the gift rather than on the heart of the giver makes me wonder if love has anything to do with Christmas anymore. We ask people for lists of what they want, but we spend very little time if any making lists for ourselves of what we think would be meaningful to them. Anticipation and surprise have been eliminated from the Christmas celebration. We know in advance what we are getting because our lists were specific. Why do I need to bother with buying the present at all? Just tell me how much it costs, and I’ll give you the cash, as long as it fits into my budget. Then I don’t have to go shopping.
If I do go shopping, I want to buy a gift that does two things –show you that I know you well enough to know what you really need and show you that I love you enough to spend whatever it takes to meet your need.
That’s how God first modeled giving for all of us. Adam sinned and brought death to all mankind. Adam was aware of his need, and even made a list of how he thought his need could be met. On the list were two things – a tree house for a hideout and some fig leaves.
But God saw his real need, and in His love He determined to meet that need regardless of the cost. And the cost was great! God met Adam’s need of forgiveness by giving the gift of His Son Jesus Christ, whom He promised to Eve when He said that her offspring would crush the head of Satan one day.
Then, in an act of symbolic sacrifice indicating the price Christ would pay for their forgiveness, God killed animals to provide the skins as clothing Adam and Eve needed to cover their shame. Everything God did was an act of love to meet the real needs of the ones He loved.
God’s gift of forgiveness through the gift of His Son became the expression of the unconditional love He had for His children. God showed He knew them well enough to know what they really needed and that He loved them enough to spend whatever it took to meet their need.
That’s what I want my gifts to show the people I love. I want to shop! I want to express my love by picking out gifts that show how well I know them and how meeting their need is more important than my budget. Yes, I will be practical and prudent…but I will not be selfish.
Be creative this year. It’s risky, because someone may return your gift. Your expression of love may not be understood or accepted. God took that risk. That’s what true love does. Let’s put love back into giving gifts at Christmas. That’s how it all started – with a true gift of love.