I don’t know about you, but my favourite thing about the Christmas holiday is the gifts! I bet you’ve never heard anyone admit that straight off the bat before. Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year. I’m one of those crazy people who, on October 31, wipes the dust of their Christmas tree and starts getting out their decorations, ready for another three months of Christmas carols and cheer. Yes, I also have a habit of leaving my tree and Christmas lights up until late January, well past the end of the Christmas season—but that’s another story for another time.
As someone who is super organised, naturally, I start planning out my gifts in advance. Scouting out different stores for cheeky sales, checking online for those items that are hard to find—I love the thrill of the chase, hunting down the perfect gift. I’ve never had any issues finding a gift for someone. I’ve lived my life in perfect peace, knowing that all my gifts are secured under the Christmas tree well before the 25th—that is, until last year. There must have been something in the hot chocolate that year because it got down to December 23—basically Christmas Eve—and I still hadn’t bought one gift for the advent season. It suddenly hit me, is this what it feels like to get caught up in the Christmas rush?
A Christmas dream turned into a Christmas nightmare as I scrambled through what was left of the stock on the shelves, realising that there had to be more to Christmas than this. As I scrambled to get gifts before December 25th rolled around, a whole month had passed, and I had never stopped to think about the true meaning of Christmas. This is the sad reality for most of us, as this world becomes more materialistic, and we continue to shine the spotlight on ourselves. The real reason for the season gets lost underneath all the tinsel and fairy lights. We get so caught up in the Christmas rush, trying to find the perfect gifts for our loved ones, that we forget the real gift of Christmas is right in front of us.
God’s gift that he has given us is perfect. “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus came to this earth as a baby, wrapped in swaddling cloth and laying in a manger. Jesus’ birth did not have a celebration, no glittering gold or precious jewels, just His parents, some shepherds and a few wise men gathered in a dirty stable. As far as gifts go, the presentation of this one doesn’t quite make the cut. However, looks can be deceiving, and Jesus’ life was the most significant event offering freedom and hope to millions.
Have you ever spent hours handpicking a gift for someone, only to watch them discard it for something else? It’s heartbreaking to know that your gift was not valued in their eyes, and they would prefer to set it aside. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). God spent so much time preparing to give us something more valuable than we could ever own in this world: a Saviour from humankind’s struggle with evil, death and separation from Him. This gift should mean much more to us than any item from the store and yet God watches tearfully from afar as we reject it. How often do we set aside Jesus in favour of the things of this world? Maybe it’s the festive season that pulls us away from God, maybe it’s our job that’s stopping us from spending time with Him or maybe it’s the people we surround ourselves with who keep us from making a stand for what we know is right.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Without Jesus, we would not have access to the wonderful gift of salvation—the opportunity He offers us to spend eternity with Him in heaven. Even though we don’t deserve it, just as we get new gifts under the tree each year, God continuously offers it to us through Jesus, no matter how many times we choose to set it aside. This is what some people refer to as “grace”. While Christmas only occurs once a year, we can receive God’s gifts every single day—the gifts of guidance, hope and peace. You may feel unworthy to receive these gifts, and the truth is that we are all unworthy, but that’s the point of receiving a gift. There is nothing that we have done or could ever do to deserve God’s good gift and yet God freely gives it to us. Isn’t it comforting to know that even when you reject God’s gifts, He patiently waits there, with outstretched hands, ready to give it to us again?
When Jesus died on the cross, He did so for us, in our place. This means that when God looks at us, He sees Jesus’ perfect record rather than our sinfulness. Without Jesus, we would not have the gift of grace. You could say that Jesus is the package deal. This is a gift that is worth fighting for! God has given us abundantly more than what we could ever dream of. If you’re looking for the perfect gift this Christmas, you can find it in Jesus.
It’s easy to get caught up in the festive season, but let’s shift our focus away from the last minute sales, the tinsel, the carols and the gifts under the tree so that we can draw our attention to receiving the gifts that God has for us. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20). Jesus is waiting for us to open the door of our hearts to Him. All we have to do is step out in faith and say yes to Jesus.
Doesn’t it feel good knowing that your gifts have brought joy to those around you? Are you looking forward to another year of seeing the excitement on the faces of your loved ones as they not only open your gift, but truly love and appreciate it? Imagine how God feels when we decide to accept the gift that He has for us. You can make His day, every day, by choosing Him.
This year, I want to encourage you to take some time to think about the gifts that God has given you. If you have rejected them in the past, now is the time to open your heart and receive them. Your salvation is the most important gift that you could ever receive, don’t you think it’s time to unwrap it?
Kymberley McMurray is a communications student at Deakin University. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.