We all like gifts, don’t we? Whether given in appreciation for something we’ve done, an expression of someone’s care for us, or a spontaneous gesture, gifts are fun.
Of course, some gifts are great but others, not so much. Years ago, one of my aunts had a habit of giving really unusual gifts. One time it was three pairs of thin, stretchy socks – red, yellow and white; another time it was a glass gravy boat with a lid shaped like a turkey. They say it’s the thought that counts – I couldn’t help wondering at times what she was thinking.
On the other hand, a few months ago, a good friend gave me a gift that was totally unexpected. Like me, Herb has enjoyed playing drums since his teen years, but decided it was time to part with his set of drums. Knowing I had resumed taking drum lessons for fun, Herb gifted me with his drum kit, complete with accessories.
The electronic drum kit I’d been using was enjoyable, but it wasn’t as serviceable as the real thing. So, I was very gratified by my friend’s generous gift. However, what if I had chosen not to accept the drums? They wouldn’t have been a gift, just a friend’s good intentions that weren’t accepted.
There’s a spiritual parallel to this. Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This is one of the most amazing and encouraging passages in the Scriptures. Because we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, as Romans 3:23 asserts, we deserve condemnation and eternal separation from God. However, in His grace and mercy, the Lord offers us eternal life as a totally unmerited gift.
This is where the importance of receiving the gift comes in. John 1:12-13 declares, “Yet to all who have received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” The right to become children of God (complete with the gift of eternal life) is available “to all who have received Him…who have believed in His name.”
Oh, but God is love, right? Doesn’t He accept everybody, regardless of what they’ve done or what they’ve believed? According to the Scriptures, that’s a definite “nope.” His gift of forgiveness, salvation and eternal life is offered freely, but must be received.
According to the Scriptures, it’s not a matter of good things we have done. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name drive out demons and in Your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Those are hard words to read. They certainly were difficult for people who heard Jesus say them in person. But it comes down to sincere faith, believing who Jesus was – and is – and receiving Him as Savior and Lord. As Paul the apostle wrote, “And we thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
When we commit our lives to Jesus Christ, in addition to redemption and life everlasting, there are many other things we receive. But that’s a subject for another time. What’s most important is having assurance that we have indeed received His free gift. In appreciation for what the Lord has done, we also should tell others about the gift that’s available to them as well. As Jesus told His disciples, “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8).
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.