Christmas Advent Day 17: Preparing to Receive
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17, ESV)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, ESV)
Many years ago, there was a young girl who couldn’t sleep a wink on Christmas Eve. She would lie in bed with her older sister and they would talk in hushed tones about the gifts they longed to receive the next morning. They talked all through the night with excitement and anticipation, and at 5 AM, they wandered from their warm bed and woke up their brothers, trying to make enough racket so their parents would stir and allow the Christmas festivities to begin. Because of the earliness of their eager noise, the plan backfired and Christmas morning was delayed longer than usual. As you may have guessed, that young girl was me—and it’s a Christmas I’ve never forgotten!
Now I smile at the memory, having seen similar stories play out in my own children when they were young. The anticipation of receiving something new and exciting was almost too much to handle. Would “Santa” bring the gifts we meticulously listed out for him, or would we be surprised by something entirely different? Receiving gifts is quite fun, and while as adults we often boast of loving much more to give gifts, the truth is that no one really dislikes being on the receiving end of good gifts.
My family likes to tease me about my enthusiastic response to every single gift I open. I want desperately for the giver to know I love it, will use it, and couldn’t live without it! I appreciate so much the thoughtfulness and sacrifice that is put in from someone who loves me enough to choose something specifically for me. But while these are pretty sweet gifts, what is my response to Christ, the Giver of life? Is it enthusiastic and full of praise and thanksgiving, or lackluster at best?
Maybe you’re stressed about giving this season. Maybe you’re struggling to come up with the perfect gift for each person on your list. Or maybe you’re challenged financially to provide the gifts you would love to give your family, and that has you stressed and feeling inadequate. I think if we’re all honest, we place a lot of emphasis on giving, but we don’t think as much about receiving. Yet receiving is where it’s at when it comes to the most important gift—the gift of the Lord Jesus, God’s salvation!
Let’s give more thought this Advent to what we have in Christ and will receive. We have received countless blessings from God, and each one is a cause for praise and thanksgiving. But what we have received in the past isn’t all there is for us—He continues to give liberally to each of us and will do so forever. And what’s sad yet true is that we often take for granted the good things we receive from His hand and fail to properly acknowledge them and thank Him for each one.
The gifts we receive at Christmastime can’t compare in any way to the gift God sent us many centuries ago. And it’s through His gift that we are able to have abundant life, canceling out the debt of our sin and an eternity in hell. As we celebrate this season of Christmas, we could give greater thought to receiving the very best gift ever—Jesus. May our hearts make room to respond to His gift by an outpouring of love and thanksgiving, warming His heart as we acknowledge His gifts to us and receive them with gladness.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!Isaac Watts (1674–1748)
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
and heaven and nature sing.