Tis the season to give and receive gifts.
For many, gift giving is acquainted with the jolly old fat guy in the red and white suit: Santa.
But is it really fair to call what Santa gives, gifts?
As the old song goes: “He sees you when your sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows when you’ve been bad or good. So be good for goodness sake!” “He’s making a list. He’s checking it twice. He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.” If you’re nice, you get presents. If you’re naughty, well, not so much.
This is how millions of kids grow up, equating a “gift” as a reward for good behavior.
But that’s not a gift. A true gift has nothing to do with whether you’re naughty or nice, bad or good. A true gift is not earned and has nothing to do with the gift recipient, but rather everything to do with the gift giver.
This is why this is important to talk about. We have to have a right understanding of the word “gift”. Why? Because God uses the word gift numerous times in the scriptures. God is a gift giver. But he’s no Santa. His gifts are not earned.
The Gift Of God’s Son
The greatest gift of all is the gift we celebrate every Christmas: the gift of God’s son. But what does the gift of God’s son teach us? It reiterates the true meaning of a gift. Those who receive the gift of God’s son Jesus, have no good thing in them meriting the gift. (Rom 3:11-12) There is nothing in them that draws him to them. They don’t work for this gift. (Rom 4:4) God justifies the ungodly, not the godly. (Rom 4:5)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8-9) Grace by it’s very definition is undeserved forgiving love. Paul says it plainly that “if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” (Rom 11:6) You can’t earn a gift and call it grace. At any given point that a gift is earned, it ceases to be a gift.
God is not Santa
Like Santa, God sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake. (Ps 139:1-2) But unlike Santa, he gives gifts to naughty, arrogant, wicked people like you and me. This is the good news of the gospel! God didn’t die for good people. He died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:6-7) “God show’s his love for us in that while we were sill sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8)
Like Santa, God had a “naughty list”, but unlike Santa, God nailed it to a cross, cancelling the record of debt that stood against us. (Col 2:14)
Like Santa, God has a chair that he sits on where we can meet with him, but unlike Santa, his chair is called “grace” and we can approach it, even though we’ve been bad, without him asking us if we’ve been good. We can come like a child, and sit on his lap with confidence “that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need”. (Heb 4:16)
This Christmas, consider whether you truly view the salvation that Jesus paid for as a gift, or whether you are somehow cheapening his gift and your response by futile attempts at self righteousness, earned acceptance, and counterfeit religious security, in a self-made Santa-Jesus.
SEE ALSO: God Is Not Santa Sermon Audio