The mall is crowded. People scurry about finding parking places and searching for that perfect gift. It’s a time of wrapping paper and tape, ribbons and bows. It’s a time of standing in line to ship packages to loved ones. It’s the season of gift giving and receiving.
I reflect over all the gifts I have received. I’ve been truly blessed. One of the dangers of abundance is that it may dull our sense of gratitude. Gratitude needs to be cultivated. It is the proper response to gifts. So it is important to say thank you and acknowledge the giver. It is also important to say thank you to God, the ultimate giver.
I don’t know how many packages will be under our Christmas tree. I do know that none will be left unwrapped. We may even feel some childlike excitement as we wonder about a particular gift. (I have to watch Kathy to make certain that she doesn’t shake too many of her packages.) The anticipation may build until the appointed time to open gifts, but no one says, “Let’s wait until next week or next month.” A gift is meant to be opened.
The greatest gift of all time is reflected in the most memorable of Bible verses:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16, ESV
Yet, many people leave this gift unwrapped.
The benefits of this gift are not automatically applied. There’s no divine direct deposit set up for each of us. Instead, the gift requires of us a decision to accept it or reject it. There’s no middle ground.
Since sin is the reason for the gift in the first place, it is natural that faith or trust is required. Sin is the opposite of trusting God. Sin is trusting ourselves and going our own way in opposition to God.
It is also natural that it requires repentance. Since sin is the problem that the gift is intended to cure, renouncing sin – having a change of heart about sin is a prerequisite (Luke 13:3).
Baptism is also an expression of this trust. From the vantage point of sight, baptism looks like someone just getting wet. But we walk by faith not sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). In the eyes of faith, baptism is the place where God has promised to meet us and apply this great gift to our lives: forgiveness (Acts 2:38), regeneration (Acts 2:38, Titus 3:5, 1 Corinthians 12:13), and union with Christ (Galatians 3:27, Romans 6:3).
Have you unwrapped the gift?