Christmas giving is a joyful, fulfilling thing to us – all we are able to imitate because Jesus first showed us how.
It makes our day to see others blessed by opening and treasuring our gifts to them.
God is the same way.
Christmas is, something for each one of us, from God.
He loves to see us receive His gift that costs us nothing to receive, but cost Him everything.
And the most amazing thing about God’s gift is the silence it is wrapped in. Salvation through His son Christ is a loving offer of something we are totally free to accept or reject.
We are not forced to receive anything from Him.
We are invited.
God has the power to force but remains silent, inviting, waiting for us to accept. We might wonder why – if there is so much value, and receiving it changes our lives for the better and is a matter of eternity, then why does God not push?
Love does not force anything. Love invites. It acts as real love’s nature does which means the response is left to the asked.
To Choose the Best
We are designed for a relationship with God through His son, Jesus, who purchased our salvation.
Paid in full, freely given – without resentment, without grumbling.
No one forced Jesus to go to the cross.
He chose to go so we could choose, too, to accept everything He provides by the sacrifice of His own life.
This is how we know the God of the Bible is the one, true, living God. No other god has ever given his own life, what means everything personally, for people who could ultimately reject what that god had to offer that was priceless, yet the people would not realize the gift’s value until they accepted it.
His is the greatest example of what it means to give with no strings.
We do not have to work for it.
We receive it by turning to Jesus telling Him we want the gift He paid for with His own life. We tell Him we want to turn away from our sin, with His help, and we want the forgiveness we are being offered at no charge to anyone except God.
With this choice we make, the gift’s purpose begins to happen in us.
He then does the changing of our lives because of what His saving of us is all about. This is because the gift of salvation is not a religion. It is a relationship we are designed for that fills us like nothing else ever will.
We can live doing good things, but we are never to do good things with a mindset of giving ourselves our own salvation.
How could we ever possibly do that without God? We are not God. We never will be and He knows this.
We could never be enough to save ourselves – this is good news! Knowing so ought to relieve instead of frustrate. The only way this would frustrate, which is the sense we cannot get somewhere and are being hindered, is if we are bent on trying to save ourselves. Unable to move toward humility to realize the truth that we need a savior, we would remain annoyed at our own inability to rid our own sin.
A Way out of Sin Traps
God saw that we chose sin, so He made a way to deliver us from it: He sent Jesus, His own son to cover our past, present and future sin, with forgiveness..
If you ever doubt God loves you, remember God provided salvation by not stopping Jesus from being crucified on a cross. Though Jesus would raise from the dead, each of us must remember the living God risked that we could refuse Him, but still went through with it.
That is what love is, right there.
Does this mean everything is easy once we trust Jesus? No, it does not.
It means we have an assurance God is
- working in us to direct us,
- getting us through adversities,
- giving us what causes never having to work for our salvation – which would be a prison of our own making if we did have to – the dread and uncertainty of never doing enough.
Once we trust Jesus as savior, we are free to serve Him out of a response to what He has done and is doing in us. This is grace.
It means we have received the gift of turning our lives over to God’s loving charge, to work in us for our good and what will truly satisfy our hearts. It is how we are made new, clean, whole, restored, and able to grow up in Christ to want what is best for us and others because we begin living with a desire to imitate Him more.
Not by Us: For Us
As we learn to know Him, we also learn to trust Him more even when life is at its toughest.
How many times have we thought God has forgotten something important in our lives, something maybe we asked Him for through the years, yet it doesn’t come either for ourselves or someone else?
If God remembered each of our names while Jesus was dying on a cross for us, then He has not forgotten the precious prayers that mean the most to us.
He has heard every prayer and does not want us to give up.
He sees the big picture that we do not see and a delay does not mean that He does not want to answer.
We find as David did and wrote about in Psalm 31:15
My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.
Our times are in God’s hands and the closer we remain in Him through prayer and His Word, the more we will understand through the difficult moments that He does have a plan, that does make sense, and is working it out for our good and His glory.
Most of all, He wants us not to miss knowing Him, that He is good, and walking in faith with Him every day to understand these things about Him more and more.
He knows what is easy and what is tough for us.
He hears our sighs and sees our impasses, and understands the circumstances and solutions surrounding every detail that affects us either lightly and that we brush off, or that hits us like a ton of bricks.
He notices all of it.
Though we might feel hindered, we learn from Christ’s example about the good things God has prepared in advance for us to do and through His salvation, gets us to the best:
Ephesians 2:8-10 reads
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and [h]that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
We may think we lose something to have faith, but God initiates our faith to grow it. This is why we can fail at trusting Him but pick back up again. We keep going because He helps us keep going:
In Philippians 2:12-13 we learn
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
“Work out your salvation” does not mean to work for your salvation.
Christ has done the work for our salvation.
God wants us to continue in our salvation in what it means to us, to live it out and enjoy the benefits of it – a growing faith, His working in our hearts to change us for our good – a delivered life from losses that sin traps result in.
This is what we gain from accepting God’s gift of salvation, and what Christmas is all about – a gift that, once received, gives to us over and over again, multiplies in effects, is never ruined, never goes bad, and never runs out.
Amanda Hughes is experienced in public policy issues, particularly marriage and family, school choice, and religious freedom. Hughes approaches public policy issues through observing combined effects that both social and fiscal decisions bear on each another. For more information about Amanda Hughes, visit http://www.amandahugheswriter.com/?p=326