Are You Ready for Christmas?
Are you ready for Christmas? Are you excited? If so, WHY? Could it be because you are thinking about what you are going to get—the Christmas presents, which have become more and more the sum and substance of our celebration of what we call “Christmas”? We know that it the case with children. But, let’s face it, it is true for a lot of adults as well!
In fact, Christmas is about giving—or, to be more specific, a GIFT. But not the kind of giving we associate with the all too secular observance of Christmas these days—involving shopping until you drop; wrapping in gaudy paper and tinsel trim, giving out of a sense of responsibility, because we know those who are giving us a present will be expecting one from us.
The true essence of Christmas is expressed in that beloved verse of Scripture familiar to millions: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Whatever other gifts you might receive this Christmas, there is none that compares with this. It is the GREATEST GIFT. Why is this so?
1. BECAUSE IT IS ROOTED IN LOVE. And this is absolutely amazing.
Sinful, ornery, mean, hateful as we are, God loves us. Martin Luther once said, “If I were God, and these wile people were as contemptible as they now be, I would knock the world in pieces.” But, instead, God loved.
Let’s face it: our giving is often done out of a sense of obligation, because it is expected; because there would be hurt feelings if we didn’t give; and even because we are having to “keep up with the Joneses.” It is sometimes done out of a grudging feeling, rather than love. And that takes away the value of the gift. So, God’s gift to us is the perfect gift, because there is only one motivation behind it: LOVE!
2. BECAUSE IT IS PERSONAL. God didn’t just give us more “things.” He gave us His Son—His only begotten Son. You have heard the saying, “The gift without the giver is bare.” Well, God gave us HIMSELF, since Jesus was God in flesh (we call this the Incarnation). There can be no greater gift than this. Isn’t it sometimes true that when we give we give nothing of ourselves? We are willing to BUY SOMETHING but don’t expect us to get involved with the recipient. Not so with God.
3. BECAUSE IT IS FREE. It is unconditional. We could never have deserved it “There is none righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10) “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) We could never have earned it. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; NOT AS A RESULT OF WORKS, that no one should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9) The only way we can get this gift is for God to give it to us. “The wages of sin is death; but the FREE GIFT of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
4. BECAUSE IT IS LASTING. Those “Christmas presents” we give and get will not last. They will wear out, tear up, be consumed, or be discarded—sometimes almost before the wrapping paper in which we received them is disposed of. But not so with God’s gift. It is “eternal.” That means it will never end. Once we have received this precious gift, it is ours forever. “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38,39)
5. BECAUSE IT IS NEEDED. If there is any one thing that characterizes the gifts most of us give and receive at Christmas, it is that they are not needed—not really. We may “want” it; but wanting and needing are two different things. And, sadly, greed is so much involved in the worldly celebration of Jesus’s birth. I know of a family that gives not one shirt, or blouse, but 10; not one jogging outfit, or wind suit, but 5—to the same person—who already has several of these items stashed away! Needed? NO!
But ALL of us need God’s Christmas gift. Without it we “perish,” as John 3:16 makes plain. Without God’s gracious gift, we are “lost.” And that is a terrible thing to contemplate—though, sadly, millions of people today never give it a thought. The word “perish” means just what it implies! The only way to avoid this is to receive God’s grace by faith— His grace displayed in Jesus, as John 3:16 makes clear: “…that whosoever believes in Him should not perish…” And in Acts 4:12 we are told: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”
Maybe you who are reading this have already received this gift. If so, then why not spend a good portion of your Christmas celebration praising God and thanking Him for loving you enough to send you His Son to keep you from perishing and give you the incomparable gift of eternal life? Even more, why not pass this great gift on to someone else who needs it, by witnessing to them, telling them that they, too, can receive this great gift through faith.
If you don’t have this gift, then I plead with you to take advantage of the opportunity and receive Christ into your heart by faith. Jesus is saying to you, the Christ whose birth we celebrate: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)
If you do, then I can sincerely say, MERRY CHRISTMAS!