“God so loved the world…” you know the ending. Many of us have heard it a thousand times, but how do you treat the gift of an only begotten Son in your heart? How big, really… would you say that gift is to you? How do you personally judge the size of that gift?
We all get the same gift, but for some it is bigger. How is that you ask?
Many Christians don’t understand the significance of the gift because they have not surrendered much in receiving it.
As a result, the gift does not appear that large… even though we may give lip service to how large it is. How often do you think about Jesus during the day and how often each day do you talk to others about Him? If He is the love of your life and the greatest, most important gift you could possibly imagine and deserve, then why is He not paramount in your mind and heart?
I’m only asking you because these are questions that I often ask myself. This Christmas, however, I think I have the solution to making Jesus the greatest gift of all – here’s how!
1. The size of the gift from God the Father is directly proportionate to your ability to recognize your utter sinfulness.
We rationalize our sins. We discount them. I played golf with an older gentleman who told me that when he was married to his first wife he had an addiction to sex. As a result, he couldn’t be blamed for the sin because it was out of his control. Frankly, I was floored by that comment. How many other sins do we rationalize (myself included) as: “I did not know any better”, “I was in so much pain that I had to”… or “I was having one of those days,” or ”who could blame me after all the abuse I received”…
Don’t these rationalizations come from a focus on our own ego? And when we misbehave, is it not from a lack of a proper self-esteem? So we sin because we have too low of an opinion of ourselves…but that too is a focus away from our own sinfulness!
When we can see the ugliness of our sin – beyond our rationalizations, we can begin to absorb the awesomeness of the gift of Christ.
If we look close, the Christmas story has an answer through what Mary did when confronted by the angel Gabriel. When Gabriel told her that she would bear a child, even though she was a virgin, and that he would be glorified above all and her heart would be pierced as a result, she said, “May it be to me as you said.” Wow! Complete and total submission to God. Would you call that humility?
2. The size of the gift that we get from God the father in the form of His Son is directly proportionate to our humility.
Do we really understand what humility is and why it is important? Paul in the Bible said that he does not depend on others for his identity nor does he depend on himself for that identity. He had incredible confidence and influence and yet he said about himself that, “Jesus came into this world to save sinners, of whom I AM.” 1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV) So, he fits the first criteria of understanding the size of Jesus as our gift…he recognizes his utter sinfulness.
Paul neither saw his sins or accomplishments as his identity, though. I think Paul got to a place that we seek if we pursue “biblical humility,” He got to the place where he stopped thinking about himself at all.
C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity puts it this way, “The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us.” Being humble is not about thinking more of ourselves or thinking less of ourselves, it is thinking of ourselves less.
How did Paul get to the point where he does not care about others opinions nor his own opinion, and thinks principally about others instead? Tim Keller in the book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, gives us a clue.
3. “He (Paul) knows that they (anyone else) cannot justify him. He knows he cannot justify himself either. What does he say? He says that it is the Lord who judges him. It is only His opinion that counts.”
Tim goes further to explain, “Paul is saying that in Christianity, the verdict leads to performance. It is not performance that leads to the verdict.” The moment we believe, God imputes Christ’s perfect performance to us and adopts us to His family. Because He loves me and accepts me I can do things for the joy of doing them and help people to help people… not to make me feel better.
This person, Jesus, laid down His life in order that we may walk over that bridge of troubled waters and understand.
These lyrics from James Taylor talk about this very thing…
Ain’t it good to know you got a friend? People can be so cold.
They will hurt you and desert you. They’ll take your soul if you let them,
but don’t you let them.
You just call out His name, and you know where ever He is
I am telling you where ever you are He is…
Then you will find yourself saying
What a friend I have in Jesus
All my sins and griefs He takes away
It hasn’t always felt this way for me…but today the gift of Jesus is so huge that I can hardly imagine anything that could compete.
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By Joe Sturniolo
Christian Family Legacy and Wealth Planning
Joe believes that stronger families are the vehicle God uses to bring
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