Christmas is a time of giving. As God gave the gift of His Son to us, so we give gifts to one another. The blessing of a gift is that it comes without cost to us. While there may have been great cost to the person presenting the gift, the gift is free to the one receiving it.
Too often we allow Christmas to become a contest in gift-giving. We want to see who can give the most costly or creative of gifts. If we receive a gift from someone, we feel obligated to give one in return—even if we had never initially intended to present a gift to them. A sense of guilt or shame comes upon the one who has nothing to give in return for a gift they’ve received.
God, unlike man, has given a gift that can never be repaid. Many times, we think that we can out-give God: that our earthly offerings can somehow surpass His offering to us. Even if God were never to give us more than salvation, it would be impossible for us to repay Him—for everything we have comes from Him. It’s like a child asking her Father for money to buy him a gift: truly, the child has sacrificed nothing to buy the gift. Her resources for her father’s gift came first from her father.
God has given us life and light. HE has given us all creation, and every good thing to enjoy. In Christ Jesus, He has given us abundant life here on earth and the hope of eternal life in His presence. What do we have that He did not give?
Our attempts to repay the Lord are an exercise in futility, because apart from Him we are bankrupt. He is worthy and deserving of our praise and thanksgiving: of our lives, and we give these gifts in humble recognition that He is the ultimate gift-giver. He is the source from whom we derive our being. When we give to Him, we are only returning what belongs to Him. When we give to others, we demonstrate God’s sacrificial heart. So let us gratefully receive the abundance He has given! And let us humbly give our lives to Him, knowing that all we have has first been given to us.
“For who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:35-36)