The other day I found myself looking like many little kids do this time of year when they get sight of a toy catalog. With pen in hand, drool on my chin, and feverishly hunched over my own toy Catalog, I found myself paging through a Harbor Freight flyer circling all the toys I hoped to find under my tree this year.
While we may want many things for Christmas, and in life for that matter, have we considered: What is God giving us at Christmas? What’s in His catalog? Let’s look at 3 things God is giving at Christmas.
God is Giving the Gift of Love
With Christmas’ coming God is giving the gift of His love. Time and time the Scriptures tell us the love of God is behind the birth of Christ. First John 4:9-10 for instance says, “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Do you see the author telling us that God sent Jesus because God loves us. His love for us sinners on earth compelled Him to send His Son to earth.
You not only have these statements in Scripture, but, you can see how people in the Bible found the arrival of Messiah’s birth to be proof to them of God’s love. Luke 1 records Mary’s song when she was visiting her relative Elizabeth: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant…He has helped His servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendents forever, even as he said to our fathers.” This glorious praise by Mary was inspired by the knowledge of the birth of Messiah through her. God’s mercy, help and mindfulness towards Israel – His love for Israel – was seen in God’s sending of Messiah. The historical event we call Christmas.
We see it too in Luke 1, with the praise of Zechariah, one of Israel’s priests, father of John the Baptist. He declares God’s faithfulness, forgiveness, rememberance of Israel, deliverance from enemies, salvation and light. All of this he declares when his son is born and he knows his own son will be directly related to the birth and career of the Messiah. For Zechariah, the coming of Christ was proof of God’s love.
You see it in the prophet Simeon’s rejoicing over the child Christ. And immediately after him the prophetess Anna came forward to take the child Jesus in her arms and praise God. For Simeon and Anna, like all the others on this scene, Christ’s arrival was proof of God’s love
You see it in the most famous Bible verse in history: “For God so loved the World that He Gave His One and Only Song…” It’s love language – giving, gifting.
Application: You are a target of God’s love. You are on His list to love. “O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast unmeasured boundless free Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me” Or the 3rd verse of our final song today:
See the price of our redemption;
see the Father’s plan unfold.
Bringing many sons to glory
grace unmeasured, love untold.
Love is a priceless commodity in the world. And no love begins to compare to that love God has for people. People love selfishly, motivated by what they get from the people they love. Or people love others only if others fit within the parameters of what we think is love-worthy. But God loves selflessly, not selfishly. His love improves the well-being of those who are the object of His love. His love is for their sake. His love is not prohibited by the unworthiness of the people He wants to love. His love is best seen actually in light of one’s own unworthiness. It is then that the unconditional nature of God’s love is most visible, most powerfully effective, and most appreciated. To see God’s love as a reward for performance is to have a perverted vision of the nature of God’s love. Not to mention a deceptive view of one’s own merit. No, God doesn’t love because we’re worthy, He loves because He is love, and for His own Name’s sake. And it is the transformational power of His love, when received and allowed in to one’s heart, that the greatness of that love can be truly beheld for all its worth.
God is Giving the Gift of Light
The second Gift God is giving at Christmas is the gift of light. We love the lights at Christmas time: the lights on trees, the street lights at night showing glimpses of snowflakes, candles and firelight. Scripture shows light around Christmas too. The star of the Jewish King rose up and led the Magi to come and worship Mary’s child. The brilliant light of that angelic chorus broke upon the shepherds out in the field the night the Savior was born.
But all of these are candles to the Sun of Righteousness that dawned on the world that first Christmas day. Jesus is the Light of the world that gives light to every man. John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it.” Verse 9 says, The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” Later in chapter 8 verse 12 Jesus declared about Himself, “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Like this season’s song goes, “Silent night, holy night, Son of God, loves’ pure light, radiant beams from Thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace.” (Silent Night, 3rd Verse)
This means several things. First of all the very idea that God is giving light to the world means that those of us who live in the world are in fact in darkness. We don’t have light. There is a certain darkness that everyone lives in, a spiritual darkness. We are all blind in this darkness, groping about desperately lost, unable to see the way.
Second, that God is giving light at Christmas means that the light He gives is the only light that dispels the darkness. There are other “lights”, other “luminaries”, but, they are false. They give only the appearance of light. They do not actually banish the blackness that envelopes the soul. The Light from God that came into the world is a Person, God Himsel in the flesh, in the Person of Jesus Christ born in Bethlehem. Through Him man may come out of his dark world and into the light of God.
Third, this Light is not always desired. John 3 tells us that there are many among men who hate the light. They hate the the light because there is a moral quality to the light. Light conveys righteousness and holiness. Stepping into the light out of the darkness exposes the darkness we’ve been a part of. Many, who love their evil deeds – “dark deeds” – will consequently hate the light because they don’t want to give up the dark behavior they’re committed to. They don’t want their guilt to be exposed by the revealing brightness of God’s holy light.
But, those who’ve had enough, who are frustrated and disgusted with the darkness they’re tangled in, they will come into the light.
Illustration: Touch Lamp.
God is Giving the Gift of Life
Lastly, with Christmas, God is giving the Gift of Life. Through the life of Jesus God is offering life to man.
You can own the world but if you don’t have what God is giving you’re in poverty.
Illustration: “Welcome to the Age of Million Dollar Poverty”
Perhaps we remember that misguided sage, Janice Joplin, turning into a song her prayer for a Mercedes Benz, but what is that going to do for you? If the Light, the Love and the Life God gives through Christmas is yours, you have far more than this world could ever offer.