But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
Romans 5:15 (NIV)
Read: Romans 5:12-21
Consider: Buying Christmas presents can be a chore, especially if you have no idea what to buy for those difficult family members and friends. The worst case is when you ask someone what they would like for Christmas and they reply “Nothing”. Not very helpful! Of course if you didn’t buy them anything, they wouldn’t be best pleased. The problem with Christmas gifts is that often we receive things we don’t really want or need. How many of you have something in a drawer or cupboard that hasn’t seen the light of day since you were given it one Christmas?
Today’s passage from Romans talks about God’s gift to mankind, contrasting Adam’s disobedience (leading to our sinful nature) and Jesus’ obedience (leading to forgiveness) (v18-19). While giving a gift to someone may or may not be what they need, we can be sure that God’s gift of salvation meets man’s greatest need. Of course it may not be what that person wants, particularly as it may challenge their lifestyle choices.
Another problem with Christmas gifts is that we have been conditioned since childhood to believe that if we are good during the year, then Santa will visit our home and leave us presents. This is similar to the ‘salvation by works’ view that believes that if you are a good person, then you will go to heaven. God’s gift cannot be earned; as it says in Ephesians 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no-one can boast.
As we progress through this Advent time and particularly as we celebrate Christmas, may we see the true worth of God’s gift to us. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:15 – Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! Nothing you will receive this (or any) Christmas can outweigh or overshadow what God has achieved for you through Jesus.
Pray: Father, we praise you for your free gift of salvation offered to everyone. We pray that we may come to understand how indescribable your gift to us really is. May we value our salvation over any material gift we may receive this Christmas. Amen
Next: #15. Advent Reflections – God’s kindness and love