Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Best Gift

When I was a child we would get a couple of huge toy catalogs. We would go through and pick out our favorite items so that we could pass a list on to Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa with hopes that they might fulfill our desires. Recently our little boys found one of the small toy catalogs that came in the mail. They were enjoying looking at all the pictures but had not get grasped the idea of asking to have the items they saw. For now the catalog itself is a satisfying gift for them. - When it comes to Christmas shopping, I must buy for young and old alike. It is easy to find gifts for little boys who get excited about looking at bright pictures on pieces of junk mail, but it is much harder to find a gift for my mother who already has almost everything she needs and doesn’t really want a lot of extras. - You see my mother has reached the contentment that comes with maturity. When I say that I do not just mean the physical maturity of aging, but the spiritual maturity of godliness. The Apostle Paul had reached such a place in Philippians 4:11 when he said, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” - My little boys are pleased with almost any gift and my mom doesn’t really want much more than time with family. Both are easily satisfied. On the other hand, so many people are so preoccupied with what others have that it can end up ruining what could be an otherwise joyous holiday. - Rather than coveting the possessions of others we are to covet the best gifts. “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:31) The next chapter makes clear what those best gifts are. “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) - The word here translated “charity” is “agape“- the wonderful Greek word for selfless love that gives to others. Jesus Christ set the perfect example of this love when He died on the cross to pay for our sins. “Greater love (agape) hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) - His death provided the means for us to have the best gift of all- a gift that is completely free- the gift of eternal life after death by having our sins forgiven. “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” (Romans 5:14-15) - When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ alone as our Savior, we get the free gift of salvation. It is far better than anything in the Christmas catalog or anything our neighbor has. When we accept His free gift we should realize that we are getting something really special. Once we have Jesus as our Savior, we never have to worry about Him leaving us. Other gifts will get broken or lost. Other gifts will lose the excitement as they age. If we put our hope in other things we will quickly lose our contentment and want something better, but when we receive Christ, we get the best. His gift is one we can really be content with. “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)

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