God’s Gift Exchange

the great exchange

We can have all kinds of things and think we are happy. But if we see someone having something we don’t have, we want that, too. And all too often, we want it all for ourselves. We wonder, how much is enough, really?

The Apostle Paul said to the church, “You abound in all the spiritual characteristics one could expect—excellent faith, gifted speakers, top-notch experts in knowledge and education, and sincere love for the conference leaders. But your motive for pursuing these qualities—given to you as gifts from God—lack something very important,” (paraphrased from 2 Cor. 8:8-9).

Paul wanted the Corinthians to excel also in the gracious ministry of giving—that is, he wanted them to be totally concerned for other people’s welfare and needs. They were not to keep these gifts for themselves but to practice them for the benefit of others.

For this reason, we look upon grace as being relational. In other words, it goes beyond intellectual awareness to personal development and outreach. In his book, Healing Grace, David A. Seamands stated,

Today, many Christians have a sound biblical doctrine of grace to which they give full mental assent. It is a sad truth they believe about God, bit it is not their gut-level basis of living with God, themselves and others. It is doctrinal but not relational; it is believed but not lived out.

This provides us with an important lesson that says, “Be careful about being too selfish with God’s grace. He gives us many gifts through his marvellous grace, but don’t misuse them by keeping them to yourself or for your own ambitions. God’s grace makes us reach out to others in tangible ways that enables us to meet their needs. We’re not just recipients of God’s grace, but conduits, as well.”

This is a fitting time of the year to be reminded of the giving aspects of advent. We stress the joy that comes with giving to others—to our children, moms, dads, grandmas, grandmas, and friends. The exchange of gifts brings on a spirit of caring and sharing that draws us closer together in spite of our differences and disagreements. And it encourages us to be thankful even if the gift we receive isn’t exactly what we like.

Little Janie was being taught that the proper things to do was to write a “thank-you letter” to those persons who sent her gifts at Christmas. She seemed to do pretty well until it came to Aunt Martha’s gift. Finally, she finished her note which read, “Thank you for your Christmas present. I always wanted a pincushion, although not very much.”

Little Janie did the best she could to be thankful even though she wasn’t all that thrilled about her gift. And yet, unlike Janie, when we receive God’s gift of grace, we can be both thankful AND thrilled for it’s something we can truly enjoy.

We enjoy God’s gift of grace for it is an abounding grace. Second Corinthians 9:6-11 says,

“Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written,
‘He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor,
His righteousness endures forever.’
Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.” (New American Standard Bible, NASB)

Notice from this passage there are certain words that relate to what abounding grace means: bountifully…cheerful…abundance…increase the harvest…supply and multiply. These are all characteristics of being a gracious giver.

Think about this in view of God’s gracious giving unto us. God’s grace was the motive for giving his own Son from the time of his birth. He didn’t keep Jesus all to himself in a possessive way—unlike what human parents may tend to do with their children. He actually gave his Son to the world because he loved us so much. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).

God gave his Son and, in turn, we give our lives to him. What a beautiful gift exchange! It’s all because of God’s wonderful grace!

This act of grace should motivate us to give. Giving should be the result of an inward resolve resulting in an outward expression of gratitude. Thus, we give bountifully because God gives bountifully. We give cheerfully because God is a cheerful giver who is pleased when we give freely and willingly. We give out of the abundance we receive because God gives abundantly to us. We enjoy bringing him the harvest of what we produce knowing that he produces in us a harvest of blessings that we cannot begin to count. When we utilize what he supplies he then multiplies beyond all measure.

The supply of God’s riches never run dry for his grace is always abounding toward us. It overflows from us to others who are also seeking his riches. Perhaps this Christmas season, there is a special need you can meet in someone’s life. Pray about it. Perhaps God will lead you to take on a special project, to find a family or individual to care for.

It’s all about the best gift of all. Click on the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=gPrOEYpV8LE

Good News to You!
Pastor Michael

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