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Our great, giving God

by KIRK JOHNSON

The Christmas season has begun. Have you noticed the music? The lights and decorations? The week-long Black Friday sales? The dustings of snow? All of these and more just stir our hearts. In my home there is now an intense focus on shopping for gifts. We pause to celebrate Thanksgiving and God’s countless blessings in our lives, but when that next week rolls around it’s shopping season.

Now, I’ve never been much of a shopper. But as dad, I do enjoy looking for the right and perfect gifts to give my kids. There’s just something almost electric in the air as you watch them open up their gifts, their faces filled with joy. It’s this gift you sought out especially for them and purchased with them in mind only to convey one message – your love for them. And when they receive that gift and begin to grasp the love behind it and respond with not just joy but gratitude and love in the form of hugs, now that’s just awesome.

I can hear some of you now thinking to yourself, “Kirk, Christmas isn’t about the gifts.” But hang with me, because Christmas is all about giving. It’s about this moment in time when God, our Ultimate Father, sought to give something unexpected, something priceless, something where He had only us in mind – this perfect Gift to us. He gave us His one and only Son, Jesus. Our Ultimate Father giving us the Ultimate Gift to show His ultimate, extravagant love for us.

It’s really not a secret that we belong to a great, giving God. It’s not a secret that He always has you and me on His mind. It’s absolutely amazing, but it’s no secret. One of the first places where God opens wide His heart to us is found in Exodus 34:6. It’s this moment when Moses, this great spiritual leader in Israel, asks God to reveal Himself more fully. So, God gives Moses and the Israelites this amazing gift as He passes by and declares who He is:

“The Lord, the Lord! The compassionate and gracious God …”

This is the first fuller glimpse God gives us of Himself. And the first way He describes Himself is by telling us that He is compassionate. He deeply cares about us and is moved by what we are going through. He is also gracious. He loves to give us, His children, great gifts. This is the heart of our Great Giving God.

John, one of Jesus’ disciples, later wrote about this giving heart of our God in describing God’s greatest and perfect gift of Jesus. Here’s what he tells us in John 1:16:

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.

The word we translate as “grace” in the original language means “undeserved, unexpected gift.” The picture is not of God just casually or haphazardly giving here, like some last-minute shopper. No … He has given us the fullest expression of His love and the greatest gift He could when He gave us Jesus, this humble baby we celebrate each year. And what began with that first Christmas continues to bless our lives as God keeps giving wonderful gifts to us that spring from this life with Jesus – gifts like hope and joy, love and peace, and more. God is constantly moving to give us everything we need to keep moving with Him and growing in knowing Him. And each time He gives and blesses our lives you can hear Him say to you again, “I love you.”

Christmas reminds us of just how great and giving our God is. He gives fully. He gives passionately. He gives the best He could possibly give because He’s given us Jesus. He gives because He loves to give to us – to you, because you’re His child. And when we really welcome and receive His most priceless Gift, when we really grasp the massive and deep love we find in this baby in a manger, our only response is not just joy or even gratitude, but worship. May we all truly worship and receive fresh and anew this amazing gift of Jesus from our great, giving God this season. Merry Christmas.

Kirk Johnson is pastor of the Wabash Church of the Nazarene.