There was one of those rare moments of inter-sibling generosity at the dinner table yesterday. It came to the post meal ritual of opening the advent calendars. I say "calendars" because our younger kids have at least two each. But most favoured calendar recipient is our four year old. He has two chocolate calendars. All fair trade and fully equipped with Bible verses of course! But still real chocolate.
The calendars were dutifully handed out and the opening began. And then it happened. The little lad noticed that his 18 year old brother didn't have one. A chocolate calendar that is. And with no parental hints or brotherly begging. Totally spontaneously. He offered his brother one of his calendars both to open and to eat. And when his offer was politely declined, he insisted, knowing that everyone needs the blessing of a slightly tasteless little square of fair trade chocolate after supper. Convinced that post dinner life is not complete without a chocolate advent calendar. His gift was duly accepted. And for one brief moment it was just a little like the end of "It's a wonderful life" round our dining room table.
It got me thinking about giving.
A couple of weeks ago we had a cracking sermon on Ephesians 1:1-14. In it we heard how God's glorious because he is the great giver. He has poured out blessings on us through the gift of His Son the Lord Jesus. He came to die in the place of undeserving sinners like us. So that I can know that I am adopted as a child of a loving heavenly father. I am forgiven as a rebel against my Creator. I am heaven bound and in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit of God Himself. This is a gift that came at the greatest cost.
2 Corinthians 8:9 tells us: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich."
And I do know.
I know that Christ gave up the perfection of heaven to walk amongst the pain of earth.
I know that Christ gave up the worship of angels to experience the anger of sinful men.
I know that Christ gave up the blessing of His Father to experiencing the curse of the wrath of God.
I know that Christ gave up his righteousness in the place of my unrighteousness.
I know that Christ gave up his very life so that he could take my death.
One of my favourite Christmas carols is based on that verse in Corinthians:
“Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becomes poor."
All for love's sake.
That Hymn was written by Frank Houghton. He wrote another famous hymn:
“Facing a task unfinished
That drives us to our knees
A need that, undiminished
Rebukes our slothful ease
We, who rejoice to know Thee
Renew before Thy throne
The solemn pledge we owe Thee
To go and make Thee known."
I know that because I have been given so much that I should rejoice. Because I have been given the love of God in the Lord Jesus, I should be not just willing, but pro-actively looking for opportunities to give that message of love to others. I have been given so much that it should be my hearts desire to give to others. The task of giving the Gift of the Gospel is not finished.
And unlike my son's advent calendars, however much I seek to give the gift of God's love in the Lord Jesus away, I will never have any less for myself.