Christmas reminds us God gave us His Son, Jesus Christ. We imitate God’s giving by giving gifts to others. Many of us have been buying gifts for family members and friends to bless them this season.
Deciding what gift to give is daunting, especially when we desire to bless our family and friends with meaningful and practical presents. When our family members and friends already have everything they might need, what can we give them?
Many websites suggest good ideas for our consideration, such as 28 unique gifts for someone who already has everything or 40 thoughtful gifts for people who have everything. Although these websites provide great suggestions, the task remains daunting because we still have to evaluate which item is suitable for our family members and friends. There is no escaping doing the difficult job of selecting the best gift for our loved ones.
While we agonise with gifts for our loved ones, have we considered giving a gift to God, the Giver of life? In Matthew 2:1-12, after the birth of Jesus, wise men of the East came looking for baby Jesus. When the star guided them to the child, the Eastern wise men came with gifts for the newborn king (Mat 2:11-12).
Gold, frankincense and myrrh were fitting for any king. While the wise men of the East knew the newborn was royal, the king of the Jews, they did not know Jesus as the Giver of life. Humanly speaking, their three gifts were appropriate for the family. Joseph and Mary were not nobility. The monetary value of gold, frankincense and myrrh gave them the means to raise the king of the Jews. Their flight to Egypt and return to Judah cost money (Mat 2:13-23). The wise men’s gifts were meaningful and practical.
Our Giver of life is no longer the same now. When he came from heaven to earth, we regarded him as human. After his death and resurrection, we can no longer consider him only a human person. Through his death and resurrection, our Giver has become the head of the new creation (2 Cor 5:16-17). Christ has become co-regent with God to reign over the universe (Rev 5:13-14).
Now our Giver no longer needs gold, frankincense and myrrh. Paul explains the Lord “of heaven and earth does not live” in the human-constructed temple. The Giver does not need human hands to serve him “as though he needed anything”. Jesus does not need anything from us because he has given “to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:24-25).
Since Christ Jesus does not need anything from us, what meaningful and practical gift can we give to our Giver? When God sent his Son into this sinful world, Christ came not to condemn but to save everyone who believes in him (Joh 3:16-18). In making the offer of salvation available for everyone, Christ not only humbles himself to become a human but also to die a horrifying death on the cross. God and Christ’s motivation to endure such humiliation is love.
Our Giver offers us salvation, not because of our effort to live a relatively good life nor because we are chief sinners. God makes the offer because he is love, goodness, grace and mercy (Titus 2:11, 3:4-7). Since God is good, he desires goodness for his creatures, even when we have turned away from him. Our Giver demonstrates his grace and mercy in enduring the cruel and brutal death on the cross to make available salvation through Christ for all who believe. The offer of salvation demonstrates God’s goodness.
Based on what God and Christ have given us, what is our best gift for our Giver? If you doubt the Christmas story, your best gift is giving Christ a chance to show you his love. All Christians are imperfect and will fail us in one way or another. Christ Jesus of the Four Gospels does not disappoint in giving you rest when you give him a chance (Mat 11:27-30).
If you already believe but are struggling to obey, your best gift is giving Christ a chance to help you overcome temptations. God does not condemn us when we come to Christ with our struggles (Rom 8:1-2). Christ sympathises with our weakness (Heb 4:15-16). When we share our temptations with him, our Giver gives us the grace to overcome them (Titus 2:11-12). There is no condemnation for slow learners like you.
Suppose you believe and are growing in him. In that case, your best gift is giving Christ a chance to deepen the intimate relationship between him and you. This intimate relationship is not just your relationship with him but also his relationship with you. While Christ is the Lord of the universe and the Head of the new creation, he calls you friend (John 15:12-17).
In calling you friend, Christ invites you to invest in your relationship with him when you trust him for your salvation. Christ calling you friend shows his investment in his relationship with you. This calling shows Christ’s desire to cultivate an intimate relationship with you, not just to save you from condemnation. Thus, your best gift to our Giver is to invest your life in this relationship.
Cheng Eng Hwa