‘Tis the season for giving . . . and shopping . . . and crowds . . . and spending! It is appropriate that we consider this attribute of God’s nature during this season as the genesis of the season comes from the most famous gift ever given.
From the beginning of the Bible we see God’s giving nature. When Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree, their eyes were opened and they realized they were naked, that they were not worthy to be in God’s presence. Even though they had turned aside from God’s plan for them, He still gave to them by making clothing. “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).
Humankind became wicked and lived its own way, but Noah found favor in God’s eyes. God commanded Noah to build an ark, through which he and his family, along with the animals, were saved through the flood. After the waters receded and Noah and his family landed on dry ground, God once again gave, this time making a covenant with all of humankind.
“Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. ‘As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease’” (Genesis 8:21-22).
When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, while they traveled in the wilderness, the people were concerned that they didn’t have food. Actually, they were whining and grumbling. God gave them manna in the wilderness. God gave them water from a rock. God gave them meat to eat. God continually gave to His people, even when they rebelled and complained. (See Exodus).
Throughout its history, the nation of Israel wavered between serving God and serving themselves, and at times they lost ground to enemy nations because of their rebellion. However, every time the nation turned back to God and repented of their sins, God gave them victory and restored them. In the midst of one of these times of estrangement and devastation, God gave them another promise:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this (Isaiah 9:6-7).
This prophecy, among others, put forth the promise of the Messiah, that One would come who would bring glory back to Israel. God would give again to His people, one who would bring justice to them.
Fast forward several hundred years to a small town in Israel, where an angel appeared to a young woman.
“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end’” (Luke 1:30-33).
More than just a king, this child was born to bring much more than political superiority to Israel; he was born to redeem His people, and not only them but all of humankind. Jesus himself described this gift: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).
We didn’t love God. We didn’t serve God. We didn’t even want God, but God sent His Son to redeem us. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Because God is a giver and gave His Son even when we did not love God, how much more should we be givers because of the grace and mercy we have received?
Especially in this Christmas season, when we celebrate the gift of the baby who grew to be our Savior, those of us who call ourselves Christians—ones who belong to Christ—are called to model God’s gift to those who have little, to those who persecute us, to those who have not heard or understood the good news of the gift of Christmas.
May you demonstrate godliness and receive the joy of God’s presence this Christmas season as you practice giving as God has given to you.