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Strings Attached

January 1, 2008

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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

More than any other holiday, Christmas is a time of giving. We find many occasions for gift giving: birthdays, anniversaries, Easter, Valentine’s day, or “Just Because.” But at Christmas time, we give more gifts than at any other time of the year. And this is good.

Whether we will admit it or not, we follow the example of our Creator. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. Before God created us, he spent six days making gifts for us. When God created man, He made a garden paradise, God’s special gift to man. God made a wife for man, another of God’s most special gifts.

God’s mercies are new every morning. His faithfulness is great. His provisions are boundless. Do any read this who do not have the necessities of life? God has filled the earth with food. Who among us has no place of shelter? Who has not even one stitch of clothing? Who has had no food available? God provides for the lilies of the field. How much more does He provide for us?

As if that were not enough, God has provided a means for rescuing us from our own corruption and sin as well. God provided a way to escape His own wrath and punishment for sin. God did not provide us with a gift that would eventually need replacing. The box was not marked “batteries not included.” There was no “satisfaction guaranteed or your money back” to be found on the wrapper. This gift left nothing to be desired, though there are plenty of those who find it most undesirable. In fact, some find that they absolutely despise the gift. You might wonder why. So I hope you will let me explain.

My father died when I was five. A few years later, my mother met a man, and after a brief courtship (which, as I recall, consisted mostly of their painting a picket fence in front of my house), they married. That year for Christmas, we traveled to Lakewood, Ohio, where my “new” dad’s parents lived. On Christmas morning, when we came downstairs, there was a very large box wrapped and sitting in the living room. The box was big enough to hold a wash machine, as I recall. And the tag said, “to David, Jennifer, and Mary, from Jesus.” Our mom pointed out the gift, and we all started (rather timidly) tearing the wrapper off the gift. As we unwrapped, the contents of the box seemed to come alive, and we heard something moving inside. And sure enough, when we opened the box, out popped our new dad.

He really was God’s gift to us, and we were all young enough to think so. But as time went by, we didn’t always think so. You see, it was a great gift to us that we had a dad. And he really was a dad to us, for all of those years. To me, he was never less than that. But as a dad, he wasn’t always “warm and cuddly” or my “best buddy.” Certainly, my dad did a lot with us. He took us for walks and for hikes. He played with us and built us forts. He really was a friend.

But he was more than just a friend to us. When we misbehaved, he corrected us. And sometimes the correction was fairly painful. And that caused us, at times, to despise the gift. We didn’t mind the “warm and fuzzy” kind of benefits to the gift. But we did mind the “bossing us around all the time” kind of stuff that came with the gift.

Which brings us to the point. God’s greatest gift to mankind was His own Son, Jesus Christ. God loved us so much that He gave His only begotten son. And His Son comes with many wonderful benefits. And if the “warm and cozy” blessings were all there were to it, I suppose that we would all take it and be happy. But Jesus Christ is more than just a Savior to us. He is Lord of everything. And that means He is Lord of everyone. And this means that He is Lord over you, whether you call Him your Lord or not.

And men resent that. They want salvation. They want to escape the consequences of their sin. They want heaven. They want all the benefits of Jesus Christ. They want the gift, but they want it with no strings attached. They want a father, but they don’t want him acting like a father all the time. Just when they want him. The rest of the time, if he would kindly stay out of the way?

And that explains why men despise the greatest gift ever given. Why it is that they want nothing to do with that gift. Unless, of course, He wouldn’t mind improving their life without all the interference.

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  1. Bobby Mitchell
    January 1, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Absolutely right on.

  2. January 2, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    That is a great message! That’s a lot better than the message I got from Logos informing me that they had a “gift” for me this Christmas. The gift was that I could purchase their library set for half off. I just had to write them and tell them that I was so very glad that God’s gift of salvation wasn’t just a half-off deal! 🙂

  3. January 2, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift, string and all.

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