Summary: Christmas message.
Like A Gift
In Ephesians Chapter 2, beginning at verse 8, God’s Word says:
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
I don’ know about you, but I hate this time of year. Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t mean that I hate Christmas and I don’t mean that I hate the celebration that we have of Christ. What I mean is that I hate the commercialization of Christmas. I hate the fact that it has become just a gift buying and a gift giving frenzy. And that does seem to be what it has become. We get so caught up in the gift giving that we almost miss the importance of the season.
One author wrote about the gift giving time of year like this (and I think it captures what so many of us go through): We must buy Grandma a Christmas present, but what can we get her? One of her daughters says, "I know what I’ll get her. She has worked so hard all her life that I’ll get her a nice recliner that she can sit in." So they get her a recliner for Christmas.
Another daughter says, "Well, I know what I’ll get her. If she’s going to have a new recliner to sit in, I’ll get her a new color TV so she can sit back and watch her favorite television program." So they get her a color TV for Christmas.
And a third daughter say, "If mom’s going to have this recliner and color TV, I’ll get her a microwave oven so she can pop some fresh popcorn to enjoy while she is watching TV as she sits in her new recliner." So they get her a microwave oven for Christmas.
And all the time all Grandma wanted was a subscription for a large print edition of Readers Digest.
Now, I’ve got my own philosophy about shopping for Christmas, and I’ve shared it with you before, but I want to emphasize it again. Because of the time that we live in, because of the day that we live in, if we want something we go out and get it. Wal-Mart is right down the road. Or if we need something we go out and get it. So, if we are going to get a gift for someone we have to get them something they don’t want or something they don’t need!
But this year, just for a few moments, let’s not think any more about the frenzy of the secular gift giving, but let’s focus on the greatest gift giving that ever occurred, and that is when God gave His Son, Jesus Christ, as a gift to us.
And I know that this passage of scripture is not what we typically think of as a Christmas Story. But I think that Paul sums up, for us, the fact that what God did was give us a gift. We all like the idea of receiving gifts and Paul said, by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the GIFT of God.
Now I want us to consider the gift just for a few minutes; we’re going to end our service real short this morning (and those of you who don’t think that I can, just haven’t been to the Nursing Home with me because I can cut these things down to about 10 minutes!). So I want us to consider some aspects of gift giving that may help us to understand the greatness of this gift that God gave us. And the very first thing I would share with you this morning is that . . .
II. This Gift Is Given, Not Earned
And to illustrate that I’d like to use a passage of scripture from the book of Matthew. Over in the 19th chapter of Matthew we have an account of a young man who come to Jesus with a very important question. He comes to Jesus and asks him, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" (Matthew 19:16).
You see he had examined his life and he knew that there was some shortcoming in his life. And he knew that the eternal life that Jesus taught, that Jesus preached, was something that was lacking in his life. And he wanted to know from Jesus exactly how he might EARN that eternal life: "what good thing shall I do?"
And the truth of the matter is that’s the way many of us approach salvation. That’s the way many of us approach this great gift that God has given us. Jesus looked at the man and asked him point blank, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God," (v. 17).