Get Every Story

Subscribe to the West Texas Tribune

God Did Not Give a White Elephant Gift for Christmas

By Henry Nelson



John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Recently I received an invitation to a Christmas party where I was to bring a white elephant gift. A white elephant gift is something cheap or weird that you own because someone gave it to you, or because you actually bought it during a time you had taken leave of your senses. You know what I am talking about is a pink flamingo, boxer shorts, fluorescent socks, coffee cups honoring the inventors of Post-it notes or Velcro, anything from Ronco or K-tel.   White elephant gifts have the same purpose as most fruitcakes: to get rid of them! The goal is to give it to some unsuspecting soul. A white elephant gift is a 2nd or 3rd rate gift, an outcast gift or a thrift store reject. The kind of thing you only see this time of year made in countries you cannot pronounce the names of. Usually they are given as a joke at those Christmas parties for the office and such. Sometimes they are given, because, quite frankly, you cannot afford a “real” gift, so you give something like that hoping the humor of the situation will cover your inability to get something on a more expensive scale. {{more}}Where I used to work we would draw names for gift-giving, because the staff was just too big for everyone to buy gifts for everyone. Anyone else do that? I think it is a great idea. I would like you to imagine for a moment that you were drawing names, and you drew the name of the one staff member you were hoping not to get. This person has treated you badly in the past. Maybe this person spread lies or rumors about you. What kind of gift would you give that person? Would they be a candidate for a white elephant gift? Now imagine that a new rule was introduced this year. The person whose name you drew is allowed to request anything they wanted and you are required to give it to them. And it just so happens that this person has demanded your most prized material possession in the whole world. Maybe it is your boat or car, or your dog. Maybe it is a precious heirloom passed to you through generations before you. Could you give it to them?God gives different kinds of gifts. What are some of God’s gifts to us? Let’s just review some of them in a sample list, okay?* Eternal life. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”* Peace. John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”* Grace and faith for salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.”*James 1:17 says,-“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Do any of these gifts you looked at earlier qualify as a white elephant gift? I do not think so. They are good gifts worth having and worth desiring from the hand of God.Secondly, His gifts are generous. Ephesians 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” He makes us heirs, not with Bill Gates or the Rockefellers, but with Christ. Now how is that for thinking big? The point here is that if you want to reflect God’s gift-giving pattern, you need to think not of “What can I get away with?” But rather, “How can I bless this person?”His motivation for giving is love. It’s ironic during a time when you are in more of giving mood, you often find yourself with the dilemma of giving something to someone out of obligation instead of a desire to bless that person. You know what I mean someone gave you a gift, and you feel obligated to give them one. Did you realize that God does not have to give us gifts? We do not deserve them. If you deserved gifts, they would not be gifts, they would be wages. A real gift is something given out of a desire to bless the person receiving the gift, not out of obligation. The Father loves to give to His children. Think about that for a minute. Why do we give gifts to our family at Christmas? Yes, there is tradition, but the bottom line is our desire to see our kids’ face light up when they open the gift to find something they like, right? And it breaks your heart when you cannot do it as well as you like. A number of years ago I found myself in a position where I could not provide for my family very well. I was working full time, but bringing home less than needed. I wanted to give gifts to my kids for no other reason than that I loved them! I just wanted to give gifts. All of you with children know that feeling. Well, magnify that feeling countless times over and you might get a sense of how God wants to bless His children. He wants to bless us. He wants to give us gifts. He wants to shower His love on us! Jesus mentions that even evil fathers know how to give good gifts to their children, and how much more does our Heavenly Father desire to give good gifts to us! That is not a promise for material wealth, but for His provision of everything we need to live in Him and for Him. What a great God we have! He loves us and it drives Him to bless us with countless gifts. Receive the gift of God for yourself. I mentioned John 3:16-17 earlier: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” God gave us His Son so He could give us eternal life. Amen! The Bible tells us that eternal life is a free gift from God. But you know what? There is something interesting about a gift, not only is it not earned, it is also not automatic. What do I mean by that? For a gift to really matter to the person it is intended for, it has to be received by that person, and that person has to take possession of it. It cannot be earned. No amount of good works will do it. Think of the most awesome person in the world who has done the most good, in your opinion. Can you think of someone? I can. In fact, I can think of a number of people in a number of different fields, and some are not even Christians.But the question is this; does all their good get them to heaven? Not according to God, and since he is the one who makes the decision, then we need to listen to him. The Bible says that all our personal righteousness, all the goodness that we have and do on our own, is nothing but filthy rags to God, and they do not get us to heaven.   Have you received God’s best gift? If not, won’t you open your heart today and ask Him to give it to you? It is yours for the asking. The Bible says that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved, and that means you, and it means me. I want you to think back to the introduction where I asked you to think of something you hold dear, and how you would react if the person whose name you had drawn wanted that very thing.I said that that person had hurt you before. This person has treated you badly in the past. Maybe this person spread lies or rumors about you. Remember? Folks, hold onto your hat, here, because I need to tell you that each one of us is that person. We have sinned against God Almighty. We have turned our backs on Him. We have lied to Him. We have cheated and stolen. How can you say that? James says that if we keep the whole law yet stumble at just one point, we have broken all of the law. Amen! And I would venture that there is nobody reading this who has not broken at least one of God’s laws in their lifetime. Yes, we have the audacity to ask Him for eternal life. And what does He do? He gives it to us! What did it cost Him? His most prized possession. His Son, Jesus Christ.God did not give a white elephant gift. He gave us the very best he had to offer to sinners like you and me. Now you know why God did not give a white elephant gift to us. Merry Christmas from me. Amen!

Ad Partners:

Appreciate Local, Independent Journalism?

Donate to help the West Texas Tribune strong!

The West Texas Tribune is a community-based newspaper that has been published, uninterrupted, since May 2005. Our goal is to highlight events and people throughout West Texas as an independent, locally run newspaper. We thrive on the support of our local community.

Don't Miss Out

Get every story from the WTT as it happens!