Summary: In the manger with Jesus we can discover 6 gifts just waiting to be opened.
Can I say I am thankful this morning that all my children are grown? Christmas is here and I don’t have the worry of 10 Christmas gifts for each, trying to make sure that all three felt happy and fulfilled with their expectations. I don’t have the worry about credit card debts ran up because of Christmas. Or payments stretching into the New Year. Why did I do that for so many years? Because I loved them and wanted them to be happy.
But what if I went to all this trouble of trying to be sure that my kids were taken care of only to have them show no interest. What if they thanked me for their gifts and laid them aside, never to open them.
This time of year is about getting the best present you could ever get. In 2 Corinthians, 9:15 Paul writes “Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!” He says you can’t describe the wonderful gift that God has given us and the reason we celebrate this season. He uses the Greek word anekdiegetos (an-ek-dee-ay'-gay-tos). It meant indescribable. It is only used the one time in scripture. Nothing in all the word of God and all the promises of God comes close to being as wonderful as the gift God gave us. And what is this wonderful gift? It is the gift of his only Son. John 3:16 “For God gave his one and only Son---” And why did He give us this indescribable gift? Because He loves us. In fact, Paul says He loved us even though we were still his enemy.
It’s easy to buy gifts for those you love. In fact, we find pleasure in doing so. But how hard would it be to buy the most expensive gift you could afford and give it to your enemy? And do so out of compassion and love? I am not sure that is in us. So let’s climb into the manger where the gifts are laying and begin to open them.
The first gift we will open is the gift of righteousness.
Romans 5:16 “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 God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins.”
Being made right with God. That is what the word righteousness means. It means to be in right standing with God, to have God find us acceptable.
When Adam sinned by disobeying God in the Garden of Eden, his act condemned all of mankind to eternal separation from God. There was nothing mankind could do to repair the damage done by Adam. Mankind would spend the next 1500 years trying to sacrifice and do good deeds to earn God’s acceptance.
I’ve never been much of a mechanic. I’ve never learned how to change oil or brake pads. For a man that can lead to an identity crisis. So many years ago I took on a simple task. I was going to change the anti-freeze in my car. I crawled underneath the car, found the plug, and loosened it. Just as I expected the old anti-freeze flowed out. I flushed with water, crawled back under the car, and tightened the plug. As I began to pour in the new anti-freeze, it immediately began to pour out. I watched as a whole gallon drained on the ground. I went and bought another gallon of anti-freeze, crawled back underneath the car, and with all my strength tightened the plug. As soon as I began to pour in the anti-freeze in began running out again. Now I was ready to get a hammer and beat that plug shut. Instead I called someone with some knowledge of automobiles. He informed me that it was a left-handed plug. In other words you turn it opposite of what would seem right. Imagine the damage I would have done if I tried to hammer it closed.
Mankind was trying to fix a problem with no knowledge on how to fix it. So even though mankind’s sins were many, God made them right by giving us the gift of his Son Jesus.
This first gift of righteousness leads to the second gift of grace.
Ephesians 2:8 “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”
To understand this verse we must first understand what the meaning of grace is. Grace is God doing the good for us that we do not deserve. It goes hand in hand with mercy. Mercy is God withholding judgment that we do deserve. Grace is us getting what we don’t deserve. Mercy is us not getting what we do deserve.