For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son.
Do you know the Christmas songs The Twelve Days of Christmas? Each line opening with the words, “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…” On the third, and the fourth, and the fifth, and all the way to the twelfth, the song sings of the gifts my true love gave to me.
We are entering into that time of year when we celebrate what God gave. What the truest of true loves gifted to His beloved. To you and me.
His Son, come to earth as a baby, wrapped in cloths, laid in a manger.
Jesus the Messiah.
The One sent from the Father that we too might become children of God. For to everyone who receives Him, He gives the right to become children of God. (John 1:12) To all who believe in Him, He gives eternal life. (John 3:16)
God is a Giver. He gives out of His goodness and love. If we had to earn the right to be His children, we would still be laboring as slaves under sin. If we had to meet a standard of perfection to merit eternal life, we would be facing the days to come separated from God, toiling and straining under the burden of guilt and shame and condemnation.
But because of His great love for us and His richness in mercy, God made us alive with Christ. We are saved from slavery to sin and eternity separated from God by His grace. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
Saved by grace. A gift freely given, not earned. And God continues to give grace, and gifts of grace.
In my grandparents’ house, a cross-stitch hangs on the wall. It is an acrostic for the word grace that gives an understanding of what grace means.
God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense
The blessings and gifts God gives not because of what we have done, not because we deserve them, not because we have attained perfection, but because of Jesus. Because God so loved us that He gave His Son. Because Jesus left heaven with God to come to earth, so that we might be with God rather than separated from Him. God’s riches - His mercy and forgiveness and power and joy and peace and hope - at Christ’s expense - the giving of His life and the shedding of His blood as the perfect sacrifice so we can live in right relationship with God, which is truly being alive.
This is grace.
All the gifts God gives are grace. For they all come as a result of that ultimate gift of love, God’s Son Jesus. They are all God’s riches given because of Jesus’ sacrifice. They all reveal God’s character to us that we may come to know Him, and live in growing relationship with Him. They are expressions of His kindness and love.
The beauty of grace is that it not only saves us, it transforms us. For grace “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.” (Titus 2:12, NIV)
As we unwrap the gifts of grace and live in the grace of God, our character becomes aligned with God’s character and will. Grace is about living in relationship with God. The gifts God gives are about living in relationship with Him. And that is the greatest gift of grace: this love relationship we are beckoned to join in.
p.s. It's not too late to order your copy of Wonderful: a devotional journal for the Christmas season! Spend the weeks leading up to Christmas unwrapping the hope, peace, joy, and love Jesus gives, awakening the wonder of God sending His Son, and embracing life in Him.
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