When most people think of Christmas, usually they, sooner or later, think about gifts. They think about receiving and giving gifts. They think about making lists up so that people will know what they want. Children anxiously await Christmas to see if they will get the gift that they have been wishing for.
Many of us use Christmas as a time to justify buying a large gift for ourselves that we wouldn’t have done at any other time of the year. We see it as a time to reward ourselves. Much of this is due to commercial advertisers, whom, we have allowed to distort our image of Christmas.
Many of us fall into debt at Christmas time, spending way beyond our means, and then spend the next year paying it all off. For these people, the joy of Christmas doesn’t last all year!
But is this what Christmas is all about? Is this the true meaning of Christmas? Isn’t it supposed to be the time when we as Christians honor the birth of our Lord?
Actually, the idea of giving gifts at Christmas doesn’t come from advertisers. They distorted it to suit their own needs: financial needs.
WHAT IS A GIFT? What is its definition? A gift is something that is given to someone else; something that is bestowed on someone else; a gift is given: (a) gratis, or free of charge; (b) without cause - it cannot be earned; (c) by the grace of another, just because they wanted to.
It was God who gave the first gift at Christmas. He continues to give gifts every Christmas. Unlike Santa’s bag that empties once a year, God’s storehouse of gifts never has a backorder.
I) SALVATION GIVEN TO ALL MEN.
A) Ephesians 2:8-9. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
1) The gift that God has given to all mankind is the gift of salvation. He has made it available to all, just for the taking.
2) The problem is that mankind will not take it. If you put a pot of money on a table with a sign, which read, “free for the asking,” people would literally break their necks getting it. But offer the salvation of God the same way, and it is ignored. Some day, men will regret very deeply that they had the chance to take this gift, but refused. By then, unfortunately for them, it will be too late.
(a) This gift comes only through the grace of God: it cannot be earned or worked for. (So no one can boast).
B) The unique thing about this gift is that He gave it to those who hated Him, and were rebelling against Him. Think about this for a moment: would you give a gift to someone who was driving nails through your hands, or who killed your son? What a true example of the love of God! What a true example of mercy! Unmerited favor! No one deserves this salvation, but God gives it so freely and willingly!
1) Luke 6:27-34. “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. 29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. 30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. 31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.”
II) LEADERSHIP TO THE CHURCH.
A) Ephesians 4:11. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”
1) The gift that Christ has given to His Church is leadership: men and women who have been endued with ministry gifts.
2) These gifts, or men, are to be used to help the body of Christ mature. (vss. 12-16)
III) SPIRITUAL GIFTS TO INDIVIDUALS.
A) 1 Corinthians 12:7. “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.”
1) Each believer is given the gift of the Holy Spirit when he or she believes. But each individual believer is given his or her own separate gift: a manifestation of the Spirit.
2) It is the Spirit Himself who decides what gift He will bestow on each individual. No one can claim a gift for himself, (and that is what is wrong today) he only receives what the Spirit gives him.
IV) EVERYDAY GIFTS TO ALL PEOPLE.
A) Ephesians 4:7-8. “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”
1) But we all have been given other gifts as well, not just spiritual gifts. These include:
(a) Our wife or husband; 2. Our children, grandchildren, and families; 3. Our friends (especially the Christian ones). 4. Our homes, jobs, food, clothes, etc.
2) Let’s remember that all good gifts, as James says, come from the Father of lights. He daily showers them on us.
(a) (James 1:17) “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
V) Conclusion: If you could ask Jesus for a special gift this year, what would it be? What is it that really matters? And that should be your prayer.
But it’s Jesus birthday. As the wise man came and gave gifts to Him on his first birthday, what gifts of value can we give to Him this year? Maybe our love, commitment to Him, service for him, faithfulness in church attendance, maybe it’s in your tithes and offerings, maybe it’s in keeping his commandments and walking in love.
Christmas is about Him. We need to show him how much we appreciate what he has done for us. What gift is that you’re going to give him this year?