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Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! (2 Cor. 9:15)

Reflect

It’s the season of gift giving. I love considering just the right gifts for neighbors, friends, and family. Each person’s name under the tree is special to me in some way. The part of gift giving I enjoy has little to do with money and everything to do with expression. Each type of gift communicates some­thing from the giver to the receiver:

The part of gift giving I enjoy has little to do with money and everything to do with expression.

A gift that fulfills a need says, “I notice and care about you.”

A gift that’s a complete surprise says, “I know what you need, even if you didn’t know you needed it.”

A gift that can be enjoyed for years to come says, “I want to bless you with future joy.”

A gift that comes with personal sacrifice says, “I love you more than I love myself.”

Even though I love gift giving, as I face the hustle and bustle of shopping and see the materialism abounding in our culture, I find myself questioning, “What does any of this have to do with Jesus?” Is the way we celebrate Christmas just an excuse to overspend, overindulge, and focus too much on earthly treasures? Should I run from the stores, remove the presents from the tree, and find other ways to celebrate?

As I discussed my internal struggle with my husband, he kindly reminded me that gift giving is not just a reflection of worldly materialism (although it can be), but it’s also a reflec­tion of our Creator, who delights to give gifts to his people. Our conversation prompted me to ponder anew the gift giv­en in Bethlehem.

Truly special gifts usually involve preparation and wait­ing. From the exit of Eden, a promise of redemption and a hope were given. The divine whisper continued speaking through all the prophets: Something special is coming. Wait for it. Watch for it. Hope in it.

And then, at just the right moment in time, God sent angels and a star in the heavens to declare: “The gift is here.” Glory wrapped in flesh made his dwelling among us in the form of a baby.

It was unexpected. It was surprising. It was exactly what we needed.

It was unexpected. It was surprising. It was exactly what we needed.

The second Adam, born of a virgin, born far from the paradise of Eden, came and lived a sinless life. He resisted temptation. He wept. He rejoiced. He went to weddings. He made intimate friendships. He experienced betrayal. He healed. He taught. He loved. He lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death. His people wanted an earthly kingdom, but he ushered in a heavenly one.

All of it was part of the gift.

When I consider all the reasons I love giving and receiv­ing gifts, I realize that in Christ, God fulfills them all. In Je­sus, God communicates:

I knew what you needed, even when you didn’t know you needed it. (Rom. 5:15–19)

You are fully known and fully loved by me. (1 Cor. 13:1–12)

I want to give you future joy. (Rev. 21:1–4)

I love you more than I love myself. (John 15:13)

Christ is the one gift needed. He never wears out or loses shape. Like a treasure chest, deeply laden with all sorts of riches, new delights await, ready to be uncovered.

Respond

Consider this past year. How has your faith in Jesus given you joy? When you think of Jesus, what are you thankful for?

Rejoice

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

– Isaac Watts, “Joy to the World”

Editors’ note: 
Read more Advent devotions in our new book, The Weary World Rejoices: Daily Devotions for Advent, edited by Melissa Kruger (TGC, 2021).

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