It was just before New Years that I began to see the Christmas trees. They were once decorated and celebrated but now lay on the curb, stripped bare of everything but their greenery and waiting for the trash haulers. And now, a month after Christmas, how many of the gifts you received are you actually using? How many had to be exchanged because of size or suitability? How many toys that weren’t broken during the first couple days are still being played with? What good are unusable gifts?
Though the gifts we give sometimes fail to satisfy, James 1:17 informs us that “every good gift and perfect gift is from above; and cometh down from the father of lights.” It should not be surprising that from a perfect God flows gifts that are equally as perfect, in their timing, receiving, or their usefulness. In more than one instance we Christians are told that we have obtained our salvation through faith and that it was given us as a gift. (Eph 2:8) And Scripture tells us of other gifts God gives to us.
The first of these additional gifts is peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world give I unto you.” (John 14:27) How does the world give peace? Two examples can be made of World War I which was once described as “the war to end all wars”, and today, how many peace treaties in the Middle East have actually lasted? The peace that Jesus gives is the calm assurance that no matter the situation in this life, we are not alone, and are deeply cared about.
Jesus also tells us in John 15:11, “those things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” The Apostle Paul adds, “Now may the God of all hope fill you with joy and peace that ye may abound.” (Rom 15:13) I’ve heard that believers should be the most joyful people around for they have had their sins forgiven and have received the promise of eternal life.
Probably the greatest gift God has given to us is His love, exemplified by John 3:16, “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.” And this God of love is the God we are called to follow and imitate. Jesus and love are so intertwined that First Corinthians 13 can be read replacing the word love (charity) with Jesus throughout, and still read true.
I once heard individuals of a large high school class were polled about the one thing they felt was the most important, not only to them personally but for the world as well. Their top three responses were; love, joy, and peace, the first three fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5. Unfortunately there is a large segment of humanity who desires these gifts but don’t want them to come from the perfect giver, Jesus Christ. But by far, the best part of these gifts received from His hands is that they are abundant and meant to be repeatedly given away again by us. “Freely have you received, freely give.” (Matt 10:8) And you never have to wait for Christmas gift giving to pass them on.