As we approach the holiday season to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s sacrificial gift to the world, let us be mindful of the gift of life we currently have and the hope of eternal salvation: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life,” John 3:16 (New American Standard Bible). The gift of giving is a blessing that never stops; it continues as we inhale the Lord’s goodness and we exhale the gift of service to people in need. Let’s give our heart to God, and then offer our hand to man, which becomes an offering to Jesus our eternal gift to the world.
God is calling upon us to give of ourselves out of service to Him and to his creation, mankind. You see, service can be taught, but true charity can only be given. God gave not because he had to, but out of compassion and love for you and I. This type of gift giving has no end. My hope and prayer is that your attitude of charity becomes contagious and spreads like wildfire whereas others see your example and look forward to serving by giving as God gave his Son Jesus. Here’s a prayer: “Father, life on this earth is so short. Help me live it to its fullest. You are the giver of life and I have life because you live in me. Help me to offer all of myself to you so that through me you can give the gift of new life to a lost soul.”
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die,” John: 11:25-26 (New International Bible).
What you keep to yourself you will lose; what you give away you will keep forever in the lives of those you give to. God will never fail to make a note of your generous gift giving, so there’s no need to worry if others don’t thank you. We should thank God this season for giving us His only Son, Jesus Christ. Let’s practice gift giving, not from the top of our head, but from the bottom of our heart. “One thing you lack," he said. Go, sell everything you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” Mark 10:21 (New International Bible). I once heard a preacher say, “You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving... God gave us His Son Jesus out of infinite and authentic love, so the world may be saved through him, a gift that keeps on giving."
What a great sacrifice God made and I am so glad He did. I must be willing to sacrifice myself for the sake of others, as God did when he gave up his Son, Jesus, for me. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship” Romans 12:1 (New International Bible).
You may recall the statement, “Pass it forward,” which means a gift or object is passed on to another person and hopefully it continues to go from person to person. I remember as a youngster getting a bike for Christmas that was passed down to me from my older brother. My dad would put new tires on it, clean it up, and then put a new coat of paint on that bike. I was overjoyed; first because it belonged to my big brother, and second I knew that my younger brother would someday be given that same bike, a gift that I thought would be around forever. Well, not really. The gift of Jesus doesn’t come with reconditioned parts like that “hand me down bike,” but with the new and everlasting creation found in the gift of Jesus Christ. There is nothing used about Jesus. He came as a brand new little baby, holy, pure, and righteous. I think about that old bike, and I am sure it’s not around today, but the gift of Christ is surely alive and dwelling in the hearts of his people. Now that’s something to be thankful for! “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” I Thessalonians 5:18 (New International Bible). Don’t settle for a second best gift from the world, that one day will fade away, but accept the free gift of Jesus Christ that never stops giving.
As we live out of salvation and strive to be more like the everlasting gift of Jesus Christ. There are traits and gifts of God’s character which we must receive from Him. God will not promise us something then take it back. What he has for us is for us, not so that the Lord will say, “Look what I have given to you, and now praise my Holy Name.” God showed the world that He loves us enough that He would give his only son, knowing “His love has no limits; his grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto man; For out of his infinite riches in Jesus He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again” wrote Annie Johnson Flint. But the joy we have is that God will send him back to the world to reclaim those who have received him as Lord and Saviour. God is not a sometime giver, but an eternal giver. No giving then taking back, but giving, and giving, then giving again. That’s what this Season is all about, because the more you give a gift which God has given to you, the more that gift keeps on giving. Below are 7 days of Godly gifts for you to consider using this holiday season.
- Monday: Authenticity - This gift is being real to all people, all the time, without camouflaging your mission to win the world for the God. The real gift is Jesus Christ.
- Tuesday: Courage – This gift is trusting God to be your guiding light in times of discouragement. It is standing tall against opposition. True courage comes by knowing Christ.
- Wednesday: Forgiveness – This gift comprehends how deep you need to be forgiven. It is a perspective of gratitude toward God and love toward others. God
- Thursday: Godliness – This gift is not a spiritual trump card that enables you to exalt yourself over others. It is the quiet, secret, inner longing to be more like Christ.
- Friday: Servanthood – This gift is the willingness to get dirt under your fingernails as you take up the mundane, thankless task that no one else wants to do.
- Saturday: Passion – This gift is living as Jesus did, filtering every action, every thought through the lens of God’s love and grace. It is the energy you use to work for change, to show compassion, to feed, shelter and teach those who need to see Jesus Christ through human care.
- Sunday: Joyfulness – This gift is having true joy, the kind that endures despite all odds. It is not founded on circumstances, but on the faithfulness of God. It looks beyond the present situation to the trustworthiness of the One who calls us to rejoice.
During this holiday season be sure to share your gifts of love and peace with those around up, and throughout this community. Sharing is caring, and many need your gifts of encouragement and hope for a better future. Never forget that God so loved the world that He gave His One and only as an everlasting gift at all mankind, which keeps on giving, and giving and giving again.
Major K. Kendall Mathews is the regional coordinator for The Salvation Army.