The True Gift
Jesus said that it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick and that He had not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.1 It is sinners who need to hear the gospel of salvation, not the righteous. Jesus loved the sinners, and it was the sinners, the lost, the destitute and the sick whom He loved and sought. But allow me to let you in on a truth; every one of the now redeemed, myself included, was a sinner, lost, destitute and sick before we were united to God through the precious work of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Scripture tells us that not one is righteous – no, not one!2
The world is lost because of traditions; it is lost because of complacency; it is lost because of the acceptance of deceptions; it is lost because of wilfulness, stubbornness and pride; and it is lost because of self-confidence, self-righteousness and sin. And sin is something which man very often denies, does not want to recognise or does not want to give up. What man does not realise is that this is bondage, not freedom, and secularism is just a license for sin, which ultimately leads to death. The Word of God in Proverbs says, “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favour from the LORD. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death.”3 The prior mentioned is not life, it is not fullness of being; it is chains, a quagmire, a burden and a snare.
Gifts received are always something that most people look forward to over the festival of Christmas, so much so that it is often the dominant theme and a financial burden for many, with commercial enterprises relying heavily on its successes. I admit, I too like to receive gifts. In my opinion, the most sought after gifts should not be the most lavish and most expensive, but the ones that are earnestly given – gifts from the heart. These are special gifts, given with love and care, and many times given with sacrifice. I want to tell you about the true and special gift that is available to all.
The birth of Jesus was significant. The birth of Christ was a joyous occasion, and it truly was a time long awaited for, but the baby Jesus is not where God’s emphasis is. As a result, we have a lot of Christmas Christians, where church is only attended once a year. But let me ask the following questions: How would you feel if someone gave you no thought throughout the year and only came to visit you on one occasion? How would you feel if you were the Sovereign King, and this is how you were treated, particularly when you knew the person’s attitude was “this is good enough”? How would you feel if your name was being used in vain all year round, and then on one day of the year the person came to pay you homage almost as a by-product? Need I bother to answer these questions? Many of us are happy to be Christmas Christians, and we think that God approves, but listen to the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before Me in this house, which bears My Name, and say, ‘We are safe’ – safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears My Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord.”4 He continues further on and says the following, “I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. No-one repents of his wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Each pursues his own course like a horse charging into battle. Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the LORD.”5 God is not fooled, He knows the hearts of men! Where is the repentance? Where is the reverence? Where is the fear of the Lord? Where is the obedience to His commands? Where is the love of the Lord, the relationship, the intimacy that He seeks? Ecclesiastical houses may be packed on Christmas Eve, or Christmas day, with “sardines” sitting unmoved as they pay their yearly “dues” in pilgrimage to the local church, but God is not fooled. Whether liked or not, or chafed and grated by what has been said, when viewed from the perspective of what man would not accept, but expects God to accept it is impossible to reconcile the two.
At Christmas, the gifts are always being looked for, but how many consider the Gift that came from Heaven? Christmas is a day when most people are more interested in the gifts they receive than in the Gift God gave, and it is also a day when revelry is more at the heart of it than the reflection of the ultimate reason for Jesus coming to earth – to die for our sins and to redeem us, thus giving us life. I mentioned that I wanted to tell you about the gift that is available to all. The gift is the true Gift, it is the faithful Gift, and it is the one Gift that man truly needs. Romans 6:23 tells us the following, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Are you just a Christmas Christian – which is actually no Christian at all – or are you a true Christian in the way God defines the term; founded in Christ? Through our sin we have been separated from God. Jesus came to earth for the express purpose of bringing about, through His death, redemption, reconciliation and regeneration within our lives and a reunification with God – for those who accept Him as their Lord and Saviour and walk in His ways continually.
“Jesus Christ was sent to earth to die for me,
What a Gift, what a mercy, what a victory.
Sin and death have been conquered for He did give
His life as ransom, a Gift, so that we may live.
From this Gift of life, if we it through Him embrace,
we can walk in the light of life, day by day and from grace to grace.
Lift your hearts in thankfulness and gratitude,
for through this gracious Gift on Calvary’s Cross our lives He has restored.
O wonderful gift from the Lord our God, O wonderful gift bestowed,
embrace this Gift, His life, His grace, and in fullness be renewed.”
Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King. Let everyone prepare Him room and let Heaven and nature sing. In the gospel of Luke the parable of the Lost Sheep and the parable of the Lost Coin are recorded. Jesus ends the first parable by saying that there is more rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.6 He ends the second parable by saying that there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.7
May the True Gift that comes from God be embraced with open arms and a receiving heart, and may Heaven’s realms ring with songs of joyous acclamation.
1. Luke 5:31,32
2. Romans 3:10; Ecclesiastes 7:20
3. Proverbs 8:34–36
4. Jeremiah 7:9–11
5. Jeremiah 8:6,7
6. Luke 15:7
7. Luke 15:10