While the recent disappointment at Reykjavik, Iceland casts a pall over the usual fueling of optimism during the holiday season, it is well to keep in mind that God’s hand is overall. It has been written that to him “the nations areas a drop of a bucket.”(Isa. 40:15) Man’s foolish mistakes and blunders will in no wise stand in the way of God bestowing his wonderful promised gifts upon humanity in his own time and way. For it is written that “the gifts of God are without repentance (change).” —Romans 11:29

The Gifts of God

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning.” —James 1:17

FOR centuries the year’s end has been a season for the giving of gifts. It is a beautiful custom, the practice of which temporarily lifts the world somewhat out of its otherwise self-seeking course, and gives millions a taste of the revolutionary changes which will result in human relationships when, under the laws of Christ’s kingdom, the unselfish spirit of giving will predominate in the world.

The spirit of giving is the spirit of God, the greatest of all givers. It manifests the generous spirit of love, and the Bible teaches “God is love.” The love of God is described by the Greek word agape, which in our Common English Version is sometimes translated ‘charity’. The original and true meaning of charity is the act of giving to those in need, where there is no hope of repayment. How truly this is the case with the gifts of God. There is not anything that God’s creatures can give to him which would add to his riches, and regardless of what they might withhold, he would not be made the poorer for it.

God gives because he loves, and the gladness of those who receive his gifts is his joy. This is true even during the present fallen and dying condition of man. Solomon expressed this thought, saying, “Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.” (Eccles. 5:18,19) Here the wise man describes the sheer joy of living on this earth, and declares that all the things here which contribute to man’s comfort and joy are the gifts of God. We are also reminded of this in the Genesis record of the creation, where we read of the garden which God prepared “eastward in Eden.” In that garden God placed “every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” (Gen. 2:9) It was all designed for the enjoyment of man. David wrote, by way of affirmation, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.”—Ps. 115:16

David also observed how the generous hand of God is manifest in all his creative works: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” (Ps. 19:1-3) This beautiful passage of Scripture tells of the wonderful clockwork of worlds above our heads. It tells us of the glory of God’s celestial handiwork, and the perfection of its silent, perpetual operation, and how the voice of God is heard in its unfailing laws. We look at these works of creation, and we stand in awe. For whether it be heavenly spheres or microscopic specimens, each is a world within itself, and each emphasizes the great truth that all God’s works are perfect. Having these thoughts in mind, let us remember that this universe is a gift to us from the great Creator, who fashioned its design for our eternal blessing.

Every moment of our existence is in some way linked to what our Heavenly Father has wrought. Everywhere we look, we see his beneficent designs, made for our happiness, and we marvel as we recognize the unbounded power and the explicit skill that is manifested, both in the minutest and in the mightiest things God has made. The growth of seeds in the warm, watered earth to supply our homes and sustenance of life, are gifts of God. We observe the manifold scenes of beauty which nature provides, the splendor of which no human brush can possibly catch to the full in their fast-changing grandeur, and we rejoice in the pleasure they bring.

During this holiday season, a goodly portion of our world is thinking of another gift—a gift from God which has drawn us closer to the greatest of all givers—a gift without which we would be everlastingly alienated from fellowship or communion with God, and in death lose all future hope of enjoying the world he has made for us. It was necessary that someone should take the sinner’s place in death. No ordinary person could do this, since all men were sinners, and unable to give to God a ransom. The Bible says that “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners” (Rom. 5:8), a way was opened for us to come back into fellowship with him by the greatest gift that has ever been offered throughout the wide domain of the universe!

In all of the mythology of paganism, the imagination of man has never devised a god that would make a sacrifice on behalf of its subjects. But our Heavenly Father, the only true and living God, offered a sacrifice so great that the very mention of it in John 3:16 makes that text one of the most loved in the entire Bible. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

When we write thank-you notes for gifts received during the holiday season, it would be well if we would take time to kneel down and offer a prayer of thanks to God to thoughtfully express our gratitude for the unspeakable gift of his only begotten Son—the gift that opened for us a new and living way to everlasting life. As we express that thank-you prayer to God, one of the texts that will no doubt pass through our minds is the one which says, “Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty.” (Rev. 15:3) The unselfish love which prompted the Father to give his Son to redeem us from death was also beautifully reflected in the life of the one born in Bethlehem’s manger. He also gave. He gave his life for you, and me, and all mankind, as it is written, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”—Rom. 5:8

At this season of the year the spirit of unselfishness is generated in the hearts of millions of people, a virtue which men should praise wherever it is found. It is a time when many homeless people are fed, and orphans are clothed, the aged, lonesome, and almost forgotten men and women are noticed. The singing of carols, the unselfish sharing of gifts, the general spirit of goodwill which exists, are good and wholesome. The spirit of generosity is a blessing to every human heart that permits it to enter.

Many students of the Bible believe Jesus was not born on December 25, but rather that, according to prophecy, October 1st more closely approximates the time when our Master came into the world. However, we are not interested in the celebrating of a day, but in recognizing that in keeping with the promises and prophecies of God, a child was given as a gift to the human race, and that he grew up to be the Savior of mankind. According to the prophecies he was to be the seed of the woman, born of a virgin. He was to be born in Bethlehem Ephratah, Bethlehem the beautiful, a little town hidden in the hills of Judea. And according to the prophecies he was born a prospective king. While we might wish that men had chosen the proper day on which to recognize that the Son of God was born, nevertheless we are pleased that this materialistic world in which we live takes time out, even though briefly, every year to recognize the birth of the one who is the Redeemer of mankind.

Above the commercialism, the tinsel and the glitter, and above the dissipation and drunkenness of some which tends to tarnish and befog the true spirit of rejoicing—above all these, millions of people have joy brought into otherwise miserable lives because of the influence of that man-child upon their hearts. Millions are moved at this season by an impulse other than the ordinary course of their lives to spend a little time, a little money, a little thought, in bringing happiness to someone besides themselves; and many of these generous acts will be remembered throughout the ages of eternity The spirit of unselfish giving brings true contentment. It holds the key to the secret of getting the most out of being alive. The person who puts unselfishness to work has learned a tremendous lesson and has taken a big step toward real human happiness.

The Apostle Paul wrote: “What hast thou that thou hast not received?” (I Cor. 4:7) Certainly this is a question we should ask ourselves, and in answer remember the statement of James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Therefore, like the clouds which pour forth their waters to the refreshment of the ground; like the stars that reflect the light which they have received from the sun; like the diamonds made alive by reflecting the light—all we can do is to give back in devotion that which our Heavenly Father has already given to us from his generous hand!

Paul also wrote: “As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God bath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of man, save the spirit of man which is within him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God: that we might know the things that are freely given tows of God.”—I Cor. 2:9-12

These are the rich truths of the Bible which have been given to us by God. They are not seen by all men. The natural eye cannot see them. The natural ear cannot hear them. But those who study his Word find therein many gifts to treasure in their hearts. One of these is the gift of peace, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) This peace of God which passes all understanding is able to keep our hearts and minds. And as we think of God’s gift of peace and how it came through his Son, we cannot help but declare with the psalmist, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation and will call upon the name of the Lord.” (Ps. 116:12,13) What can we render unto the Lord? Mary broke the alabaster box of ointment and poured its sweet-smelling contents over the head of Jesus. (Mark 14:3) That gift was a reflection of the love Mary had received. While Jesus is no longer here in the flesh, nevertheless we can continue to honor his name and remember the great fact that he died that we might live.

To know that we are loved is one of the greatest treasures of life. Our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus treasure our love. Jesus said the greatest commandment was that we should love the Lord our God with all our hearts and minds, and should love our neighbors as ourselves. From these deep undercurrents of human love there are gifts that every one of us can give both to God and to men. If it were not for these, much of the meaning of life would be gone. And as we endeavor to give these gifts, let us remember that the manner of giving is just as important as the gift itself. It should always be done as a reflection of God who gave his gifts prompted by unselfish love. If we allow this spirit of unselfishness to rule, we will learn that it will make our lives more serviceable to others and will make us content within ourselves; for, as we have freely received, and as we freely give, we learn the secret of true happiness and attain more of the peace of God.

The song in the night sung to the shepherds of Bethlehem’s fields, tells of our Father and the gift of his Son. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them: and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on the earth peace, goodwill toward men.”—Luke 2:8-14

These are thrilling words for they speak of eventual peace on earth—peace which will be established by God through a great divine king who, though invisible, will be recognized by all as the one born in Bethlehem; who throughout the thirty-three and one-half years of his short life was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners; who healed the sick, caused the lame to leap, the blind to see, and the deaf to hear; who wept over the impoverishment of men and their rejection of him; who poured out his life unto death; who voluntarily offered his perfect human life on the cross to ransom us from the power of the grave; who said while he yet lived, that like as the Father had power to give life, so also he had given the Son power to give life, and because of this, the hour would come “in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth.”—John 5:28,29

Surely a ruler with such power and proven love for man can restore peace to the earth; and so says this prophecy: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God [ruler], the Everlasting Father [lifegiver], the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this.”—Isa. 9:6,7

This promise of God to bring peace to the world is yet to come. But it will surely come, because the great gift which he gave nearly two thousand years ago was an expression of his ‘goodwill’ to have it accomplished!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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