IMG_4933I love getting and giving presents at Christmas. This year we got our oldest granddaughter a sewing machine. As she opened her present, the look on her face when she realized was she had was amazing. She loved it!

Gifts for Christmas go all the way back to the original Christmas story. The gifts brought by the wise men to Jesus were unique – gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold signified kingship. Frankincense, a fragrant gum resin ground into powder and burned as incense, symbolized priesthood. Myrrh, another aromatic resin from small, thorny trees, was very costly and used in perfumes, anointing oils, medicine, and embalming. It denoted Jesus’ future suffering and burial. Strange, unique gifts for this little baby, weren’t they?

But the greatest gift at Christmas was Jesus Himself. He was God’s unique gift to the world. If you notice 1 John 4:9-11, we discover three principles about this unique gift of love…

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (1 John 4:9-11)

This unique gift shows how much God loves us (1 John 4:9)

When John says, “in this”, he refers to God sending His unique Son. The Father’s action proved His love for us. This Son, Jesus, was no ordinary son. He is the only begotten (unique, one-of-a-kind) Son of the Father. This unique Son of God brought eternal life to all who trust in Him.

Maybe this story will remind you of the great love of a Father….

An American businessman had an Indian friend who would dive deep in search of pearls. It seemed each pearl he brought up was better than the one before. One afternoon, the businessman heard a knock at his door. It was the diver asking him to come to his house. The aging diver brought out a small, heavy strongbox. ‘I have had this box for years,’ he said. He removed a carefully wrapped package and folded back its layers. Uncovering a brilliant pearl, he placed it in the businessman’s hands. It was beautiful; a truly perfect specimen. The diver explained that the pearl had once belonged to his son, who was the best pearl diver in India. He had always dreamed of finding such a pearl. When he did, it cost his life. ‘All these years I have kept this pearl, and now I want to give this pearl to you, because you are my best friend.’ The businessman objected, offering to at least buy the pearl. The old diver was stunned. ‘You don’t understand, my friend. My only son gave his life to get this pearl. I cannot sell it. But I want to give it to you because of my love for you.’ How like our Heavenly Father, who gave His Son out of His love for us.

This unique gift helps us understand true love. (1 John 4:10)

The source of true love is God. The act of giving His Son demonstrates true love.This act did not start with us. It was an act in which we had no part – a total transaction of divine love. The nature of true love is sacrificial – “He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (substitutionary sacrifice) for our sins”.

After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, one forest ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, carried her babies to the base of the tree and covered them under her wings. She could have flown to safety, but she remained. Because she was willing to die, those under her wings were able to live.

God wants His love for us to be shared with others (1 John 4:11)

When we love others, we participate in the same love by which God loves us. Christmas shows us how much God loves us. Christmas helps us understand true love. God wants His love for us to be shared with others.

I hope Christmas brings you close to those you love. I hope it gives you opportunity to give and receive love. But most of all, I hope you will realize how much you are loved by God.

Or you can read more Gifts of Christmas.