Summary: A message describing the wonder of the gift of God in Christ. Revised and updated December 2005.
God Didn’t Give a White Elephant Gift for Christmas
December 19, 1999
(Updated and revised December 10, 2005)
Recently I received an invitation to a Christmas party where we were to bring a white elephant gift.
You know what a white elephant gift is, don’t you? Something cheap or weird that you own because someone gave it to you, or because you actually bought it during a time you had taken leave of your senses.
You know what I’m talking about - pink flamingo boxer shorts, fluorescent socks, coffee cups honoring the inventors of Post-it notes or Velcro, anything from Ronco or K-tel - you know what I’m saying.
Well, white elephant gifts have the same purpose as most fruitcakes: to get rid of them! The goal is to give it to some unsuspecting soul, preferably an in-law.
A white elephant gift is a 2nd or 3rd rate gift. An outcast gift. A thrift store reject. The kind of thing you only see this time of year make in countries you can’t pronounce the names of.
Usually they are given as a joke at those Christmas parties for the office and such. Sometimes they are given, because, quite frankly, you can’t afford a "real" gift, so you give something like that hoping the humor of the situation will cover your inability to get something on a more expensive scale.
At times while I was growing, and even in the recent past, we used to draw names for gift-giving, because the family was just too big for everyone to buy gifts for everyone.
Anyone else do that? I think it’s a great idea.
I’d like you to imagine for a moment that you were drawing names, and you drew the name of the one family member you were hoping NOT to get. Maybe some distant cousin or something.
This person has treated you badly in the past. Maybe this person spread lies or rumors about you. Maybe they stole something from you or wrecked your car. Or maybe they hurt someone you love.
What kind of gift would you give that person? Would they be a candidate for a white elephant gift?
Now imagine that a new rule was introduced this year. The person whose name you drew is allowed to request anything they wanted, and you are required to give it to them.
And it just so happens that this person has demanded your most prized material possession in the whole world.
Maybe it’s your boat or car, or horse, or dog. Maybe it’s your Kirby Puckett autographed baseball and rookie card. Maybe it’s a precious heirloom passed to you through generations before you. Or maybe it’s just a picture of you and your dad holding your first fish.
Could you give it to them?
Well, today we are going to look at God’s gift-giving pattern and see what we can learn about how to appreciate and reflect Him during this time of gift-giving.
And as you can tell from the title of the message, we’re going to focusing on the fact that God’s way of giving never included second or third-rate gifts.
Ready? Let’s first look at the fact that...
God gives different kinds of gifts.
What are some of God’s gifts to us? Let’s just review some of them in a sample list, okay?
* Eternal life.
Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
John 14:27 - Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
* Grace and faith for salvation.
Ephesians 2:8-9 - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
* Wisdom for the trials of life.
James 1:5 - If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
* Daily provision for needs.
Matthew 6:31-33 - So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
* Other blessings.
John 1:16 - From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.
God has a style of giving.
* His gifts are good.
Listen to James 1:17 -
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.