But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many…much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:15–17—NKJV)

Gifts and gift giving take special thought. I have recently become aware that there are some who believe gifts and gift giving can be the source of great disappointment and have begun to make their thinking known in print. They purport that greater satisfaction is gained if you just go out and buy for yourself rather than have a gift bought for you. Then all expectations are met and any blame for disappointment is yours alone for what was bought was your choice. Thinking like this sets the whole idea of Christmas, birthdays, graduations, and other occasions of gift giving on its head!

Sure, there better be a greater satisfaction derived from the object obtained when you choose well and buy for yourself—this does not require explanation or proof. Where the philosophy goes wrong is it ignores the whole concept and value of the very nature of the expression of love shown by someone else in the buying and giving of a gift for you. It is called a gift for a reason.

I believe that gift giving teaches some valuable lessons that display one of the most significant choices of words that God uses in the Bible. “For God so loved the world that He gave…” are the words of John 3:16. It is not in error that God uses “gift” to describe Jesus and His work. The idea of a gift, along with all its attendant beauty and limitations, pictures precisely what God was doing for us in His Son.

When we give gifts to our loved ones, we go through quite a process. First, we must know the person for whom we are getting a gift. The gift is for them, after all, not for us. This takes some study. Second, the gift is limited to what is available; it may not be exactly what a person may wish for, but is certainly crafted to best express the grace that is being communicated. Third, the gift, in order to be a gift, is a gracious act expecting no payment in return. Fourth, the cost of the gift is wholly borne by the giver, not the recipient; it is a display of favor. Fifth, gift giving and receiving makes a memorable occasion, not restricted to a date on a calendar. Sometimes the giving of a gift is the occasion to be celebrated.

Just as choosing and procuring an object for yourself does not qualify as a bonafide gift, so working to earn and obtain your own salvation causes the grace of salvation to cease being a gift and does disservice to the very work of our Savior Jesus Christ. Sin and its consequences we earn. Salvation is a free gift of divine favor. Our text speaks to the vast difference between the misery into which we fall prey by our own sin leading to hopeless condemnation, and the costly gift of grace presented to us through the death, burial and resurrection of the Son of God. Adam brought the human race sin, offense, condemnation and death. Jesus Christ brings forgiveness, life, fellowship, and freedom to obey God. This is the abundant, free gift which God chooses for regenerated believers.

The Savior Jesus Christ is the free gift, pictured in the giving of gifts to one another. First, He is thoughtful, knowing the recipient as only God can. Second, His gift is not exactly what our poor heart would choose for ourselves; rather He gives exactly what we need to be rescued from eternal condemnation. Third, His gift cannot be earned, for His is an act of mercy and grace. Fourth, He has paid the purchase price in full with His own blood. Fifth, the day of personal salvation when receiving the Gift of Christ is a day to be celebrated all for its own beauty as a special occasion.

When next you give a gift, think of the significance of gift giving from an eternal perspective and thank God for “His indescribable Gift.” Have you received the gift of grace offered through the finished work of Jesus Christ upon the cross of Calvary? Are you telling others of the expensive grace which offers the free gift of salvation? Trust and obey.