God Gives the Greatest Gift of All

Christmastime is an exciting, joyful season because it reminds us of the greatest gift the world has ever received.  These are days of giving, a special time set apart from the rest of the year.  I read recently of three children in a poor immigrant family who one evening eagerly awaited their father’s arrival with the family Christmas tree and gifts for everyone. Each year, no matter how tight the budget, they always had a live Christmas tree with decorations the children made themselves. On this particular Friday, their popcorn chains and paper ornaments complete, they anxiously watched out the window for Papa to come.

 

A Substitute Tree

Finally their mother cautioned, “Don’t get your hopes up, children. Perhaps Papa won’t be able to bring a tree this year.”  Earlier in the day she had gotten news through a phone call at the neighbor’s house that Papa had lost his job. But her warning failed to dampen their anticipation.

When the old car turned in the drive, the children ran out to see what Papa had brought. Sure enough, there was no tree — no gifts — only a few groceries. Holding back the tears, the little girl ran upstairs, praying silently that Papa would be able to find a Christmas tree.

The next day, Christmas Eve, the children worked at household chores and, despite their disappointment at having no tree, hung their stockings on the bedposts. Seeing their expectation, Papa promised to see what he could do about a Christmas tree.

After a few hours of work in the garage, he came out carrying a tall two-by-four with holes drilled in it. Then he went up the street to a neighbor’s house which was surrounded by three even rows of beautiful evergreen trees, and got permission to cut some small branches from the bottoms of the trees. Returning home, he inserted the branches into the holes in the two-by-four to make the children’s promised Christmas tree. The little girl, deeply disappointed with the pitiful substitute tree, ran to the darkened window to hide her tears.

Just then a knock came at the door. The little girl opened it to find the neighbor lady from whom Papa had gotten the branches. Standing beside her was her son, who was holding a beautiful, perfectly shaped Christmas tree.  The children shrieked with delight as the smiling young man carried the tree into the living room, his mother behind him carrying a bag with gifts for the whole family. After putting all their ornaments on the tree, the children agreed it was the most wonderful Christmas tree they had ever seen.

The next day they saw the gaping hole left in their neighbor’s hedgerow. For years to come, that gap in a row of evergreens reminded the immigrant family that their neighbor had chosen to give them her most beautiful tree so their Christmas would be a happy one.

 

The Perfect Gift

That story causes me to remember that God gave the most perfect gift He had on the first Christmas. A makeshift substitute would not do; He gave His only Son. The message is so beautiful, yet so profound, that we do not always allow it to fully register in our spirits.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16,17).

God gave the finest gift He had in order to redeem man from his sinfulness. Ever since Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation in the Garden, God and Satan have been locked in battle for the souls of men. The difference is that Satan’s desires are totally selfish – he does not give; he takes away and destroys. But God, in His loving, forgiving, compassionate nature, made a way for fallen man to be reconciled to Himself.

 

The Perfect Union

When God pronounced a curse upon Adam and Eve because of their sin, He also pronounced a way of escape for man — a way to restore his relationship with God the Father. God declared, speaking to Satan,

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

The woman’s seed — Jesus, God’s only Son — would inflict upon Satan’s head a wound which would never heal.  Satan would merely wound the heel of Jesus at Calvary, for Jesus would triumph over death.

But before Calvary could happen, there had to be an incarnation — the perfect union of divinity and humanity.  God has to give the great gift of His Son, Jesus, to provide a substitute who would bear the penalty for man’s sin and meet the demands of God’s justice.  Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, yet borne in the earthly body of the virgin Mary, to accomplish the incarnation.  Jesus provides the way back to God.

While Satan’s control of man always ends in depravity, the man who yields to God and acknowledges His Son always finds blessing.

 

The Perfect Example

Because Jesus was the perfect union of divinity and humanity, He is our example of how the Father wants His children to behave. God’s nature is to give and to bless. That is why the Scripture says,

“Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands — all that you can hold. The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you” (Luke 6:38, Good News Bible).

God’s spiritual law is activated when we give with the same unselfish spirit He had when He gave His Son.  We must give the finest we have, not second-best. Then He opens up the treasure of heaven that we might be blessed right here on earth.

 

The Principle at Work

At one of my meetings in Little Rock, Arkansas I saw this divine principle at work.  At the end of a morning teaching session I gave the people an opportunity to share in the expenses of the meeting. In praying before the offering was received, I said, “Father, I ask you to repay a hundredfold everyone who gives in this offering.”

While the ushers were receiving the offering, my attention was drawn to a young minister and his wife sitting in the audience. Because of their in-filling of the Holy Spirit, they had been put out of the church they had been pastoring.  Cecil kept busy ministering to others at every opportunity, and they trusted God to meet their needs. Suddenly I realized the Lord was telling me, “I want you to receive an offering for Cecil.”

I stood and shared this impression with the people and said, “If you have something God has placed on your heart to give to them, come forward and place it on the podium.”

Later I learned that as the first offering had been received, Cecil had turned to his wife and asked, “What do we have to give?”

“We have only two dollars, and we need that to pay for our parking tonight,” she answered. They were counselors for a Billy Graham film then showing in downtown Little Rock.

Cecil said, “Let’s give it in the offering.”

They had barely placed their last two dollars in the offering plate when the Holy Spirit spoke to me and I asked the people to bring an offering for Cecil and his wife. I knew nothing about their need; I simply obeyed the Holy Spirit’s prompting.  When the offering was counted it came to $210. Within minutes after they obeyed in giving all they had, God had given back to them more than a hundredfold!

The great truth of John 3:16 establishes the divine principle of giving by which God operates, and Luke 6:38 provides the example for us to follow.

At this wondrous Christmas season we say with the Apostle Paul,

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).


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