Summary: God has given us Himself in Christ. As Christians, we are called to offer ourselves. We are to be a gift to God and a gift for others.
We are catching into this spirit of giving at Christmas - the world says it’s the season of giving.
• And it means of buying too, because without buying there won’t be any giving.
• You see that all around you. When I opened my mailbox a few days ago after my trip, it was jam-packed with mails. There were many colourful, glossy booklets – some from shopping malls, some from credit card companies - informing you of all the great Christmas discounts you can get.
• Banks are offering you interest-free loans so that you can lend to buy.
• Go to the malls and you’ll see that many items are already gift-packed for you, nicely packaged as gifts. You just need to buy and give. No wrapping needed, no wrapping papers needed.
• We see that here, we see that in Italy, France, in our tour.
• People are into this buying craze in order to give.
Yes, Christmas is all about giving - BUT it’s a giving of a life.
• Christ gave Himself to a world lost in sin.
• Being in very nature God, yet did not consider equality with God something to hold on to.
• He made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
• He humbled himself, even to the point of death – and not a simple death, but shameful and torturous one on the cross!
Christ did not give us something. He gave us Himself.
• “For unto us a CHILD is born, unto us a SON is given.”
• Christmas is all about the giving of a PERSON!
• Our lives have been changed because SOMEONE gave Himself, and sacrificed.
As I was pondering this – the fact that the world is so caught up by the giving of things - we as Christians are called to offer our lives to God.
• Rom 12:1 “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.”
• Worship is more than just the offering up something to God; it is the offering of our selves to God.
• Jesus wasn’t impressed by the rich that brought in lots of money, but by the poor widow that gave two coins – her life’s savings.
• It is not burnt offerings and sacrifices that God is delighted in but our obedience to Him. (cf. 1 Sam 15:22) Samuel told King Saul.
If we are called to be like Jesus, then Christmas forces us to confront this truth:
• God wants us to offer our lives to Him so that His will can be accomplished.
• That was what Jesus did.
It is the giving of ourselves, not just things that God wants.
• God does not really need our things, He needs us. He calls people, not things.
• He called Abraham; He called Moses; He called Samuel; He called Mary; He called John the Baptist (he Bible says, he "was a man sent from God.” (John 1:6)
• We see God providing the things: Food, water, land, flock, harvest… but He calls the man.
The world has made Christmas a season of giving, which is good.
• But we have to go beyond that – beyond the ‘once-in-a-year I give you a thought and buy you a gift’ thingy.
• Which is good in itself, but we have to go beyond that.
• When thinking about gifts – probably once a year at Christmas or birthday, consider this: People need us more than the things we can buy them.
We are the GIFT to God; we are the GIFT for others.
• God wants us to offer this GIFT – our lives – to Him.
• We offer that to God and allow Him to use it to farther His Kingdom and fulfil His will.
• People need our love, our care, our time.
God wants to build His Kingdom, His church; He wants to change this world, but He is not going to look for things.
• He’s looking for people – people like you and me who have come to know Him and love Him.
• …Christians who are committed to see that God’s will be done on earth, so that this lost world will find His love, and experience His grace
E. M. Bounds puts it very well:
“We are constantly on a stretch, if not on a strain, to devise new methods, new plans, new organizations to advance the Church and secure enlargement and efficiency for the gospel. This trend of the day has a tendency to lose sight of the man or sink the man in the plan or organization. God’s plan is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else. Men are God’s method. The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.”