“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
– Romans 6:23
My wife, Bernadette, and I were recently debating what to give family members for Christmas. Of course, one of the options is always money, something no doubt people could use as they please, particularly in these difficult economic times. By doing so, the reasoning goes, they can buy whatever they want or need. After all, it is the thought that counts.
Perhaps I am becoming an old grouch, but I am tired of giving people money for Christmas. Not because I do not want to part ways with my money, quite the contrary. It seems to me Christmas gifts ought to be personal, heartfelt items; something you know somebody really wants, but cannot or would never buy. It’s called a surprise. It’s also an act of generosity and love.
I am like my late dad, I really prefer not to put a spending limit – within reason (I do think setting an overall budget for total Christmas buying is prudent) – on a gift for family members. Christmas is the one time I want to splurge when it comes to my gift-giving. My family often sets spending limits on gifts for each other, but they are routinely violated, something that delights me, especially when it comes to the receiving!
There is nothing quite like watching a family member opening a gift that was something they wanted, but never expected to receive. That is why mom and my sister, Leann, demand that we take turns opening our gifts one at a time, so everyone can see the unwrapped contents and take a picture of the receiver’s reaction. This always results in wrapping paper flying everywhere, a lot of screaming, laughing and general mayhem on Christmas Eve night. I would not even attempt to put a price tag on the joy of the moment and the genuine feelings of thoughtfulness and love. Of course all this is happening while partaking of country ham and homemade yeast rolls, Buffalo wings, veggies, chips, dip, cookies, white and dark chocolate fudge, and mom’s world-class fruit cake all washed down with orange sherbet punch. It is the biggest mess you have ever seen, but it sure is fun!
Then comes a moment that has become a tradition within this tradition: reading Luke 2. I am grateful to God that all of my family members are saved, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. So the moment would not be quite the special moment it is without taking a break from the bedlam to pause and remember the birth of the Christ Child. I might add that it is a great way, a teachable moment, to demonstrate to the younger generations present what Christmas is really all about.
The incarnation, God coming to be with us as a human man and then dying for our sins is the greatest gift of all. Unless God made a provision, as He did – in the person of Jesus – by coming and dying on the Cross, there would be no hope for you and me. We would be doomed, appointed to die and be eternally separated from God. All we have to do is repent of our sin and ask Him into our hearts, saving us and guaranteeing that we will have the free gift of life – not death – with Him for eternity.
To me, gift-giving symbolizes what God did for us. Give your money to Lottie Moon. Our foreign missionaries desperately need our financial support.
But give others a gift, no matter the size. Perhaps money is short this year, then give of your time. Gestures of caring and acts of love in this cold, dark world can mean so much to somebody. Of course telling people about Jesus is a gift we can give as well. Salvation freely offered through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the greatest gift – one that keeps on giving.