There is so much excitement and giddiness that is tasted and seen when preparing a gift for someone. When I am preparing a gift for someone, one of the first things that I do is think of the person that I am wanting to bless with a gift. Purposefully and individually, I have them in my mind and on my heart. Their face is so beautifully crafted on the canvass of my thoughts and in my ears I hear their name specifically spoken as I delight in the joy of knowing them. Once I have the person chosen, I then go about choosing the very best gift that I can provide them. It is absolutely crazy how refreshing it is when we seek out how we can refresh others. WOW! When I am wrapping a gift, it is like a confetti canon of joy exploded because I begin to think about how sweet it will be when that person opens their gift. It makes my heart smile just to think about them receiving it, knowing that they were thought of by name, chosen, and cared for.
How sad would it be to take the gift that was prepared and wrapped with genuine eagerness to the person, and they rejected it? To take a gift to someone and to have them respond with exuses as to why they simply cannot take it would burden my heart. It would be very sad and kind of confusing to get the response that they did not do enough to deserve the gift that I simply wanted to give to them. There was never a way that they could have earned this gift that I was so glad to give, I wanted them to simply accept it. I would want them to accept the fact that they were thought of by name, chosen, and cared for. It would burden my heart because I would know the fun that would be withheld from them simply because they chose not to receive what was prepared for them.
As Christmas is coming around the corner and as I begin to think about the joy of giving, I am seeing that a big reason it feels so good to give is because of how sweet it is to see someone else receive. Love is sacrificial, it is not self-seeking, and therefore it rejoices in lifting others up with honor by giving to them with a glad heart.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:1-10 NIV)
In Ephesians 2:8-9, we are told that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the GIFT of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” God, the King of the Universe, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End, the Lord of lords, the Host of hosts, the Great I Am, the Prince of Peace, the Creator, the One Who calls each star by name, the Artist of the skies, the Maker of you, whom He declares is His masterpiece…God thought about you by name before the world had any time to call you names. He individually and purposefully chose you and had you in His mind and on His heart as He made you in His image. He knows you fully. He has searched and knows when you sit and when you rise. He perceives your thoughts from afar and discerns your going out and your lying down. Before a word is on your tongue, He knows it completely. Nothing about you, even the things that you hide in desperation and embarrassment, is hidden from Him. He fully knows you, and beloved one, He fully loves you. (Psalm 139)
He fully loves us so much and is so rich in mercy, that even while we were dead in our transgressions and sins, He wanted to give us the best gift. What scandalous grace. For God so loved us, that He sent His one and only Son so that if we believe in Him, we will not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). He demonstrated His perfect love for us, in that while we were still sinners, He sent His most cherished gift to take our place of death due to our sin (Romans 5:8). Our sin separates us from God and because God designed us to be in relationship with Him and desires to be in relationship with us, He made a way for us to walk in relationship with Him as He intended from the very beginning. This redeemed relationship is found through His gift, His Son, Jesus. Grace is defined to be the free and unmerited favor of God and it is a gift that no one can do enough things or work to a certain degree in order to attain. It is simply a gift that God excites in us receiving. He excites in being with us and thinking about us and knowing us fully, so I can only imagine how saddened the heart of God must be, when we reject His best gift because we feel like we did not do enough to earn it. I can see a glimpse of how burdened the heart of God must be to choose us and send His one and only Son and be jealous for us, and then we turn our backs in belief that He doesn’t want us.
The enemy speaks in condemnation and confusion and chaos and deceit. But the One Who has called you by name, speaks to you in love and life and peace and truth.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
The enemy wants to steal your joy, kill your faith, and destroy your vision of God’s love for you. Jesus, though, came to make beauty out of your ashes and pick you up, heal you, and bring you back to life. And this does not take place after you check off a certain number of boxes on a religious to do list. This takes place by you simply receiving the gift He has already given you and living a life operating out of wholehearted gratitude for such a gift.
Why would God give the best gift simply for us to look at it and talk about it on Sundays? He wouldn’t. In response to such boundless and reckless grace, we open it and rejoice and praise Him and walk with Him and receive it-not because we did anything to earn it-but simply because we are undeservingly loved by the God Who is jealous and eager for us to walk in His unmerited and free favor and life. The good works that God prepared in advance for us to do cannot be fully lived out until the gift of grace is received. We are pursued unconditionally by God Almighty and He has an original adventure of life and freedom waiting for each of us on the other side of His grace simply being received.
The gift of grace was not given to stay wrapped, if it was, what was the purpose of sending it?