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The true happiness of Christmas

December 2005 | by Geoff Thomas

‘I enjoy Christmas’, said my friend, ‘because I like getting presents’. There was a twinkle in his eye when he said it, but no sensible loving person despises receiving present. But we also enjoy giving presents, gifts that make your loved ones’ eyes light up with pleasure. Giving and receiving – here lies the true happiness of Christmas.

Some churches in ancient Macedonia had discovered the joy of giving. The apostle Paul wrote, ‘They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will’ (2 Corinthians 8:5).

That was their priority – to give all that they were to God, and then to show that God had truly changed them by being generous to those in need.

It is an amazing thought, that the God who made the universe wants to make ordinary people like us kind and thoughtful. He wants us to give ourselves to him, and then to one another.

A very wise God!

A missionary was talking about the Lord Jesus to a tribal chief. The chief, wanting to impress the missionary, offered him gifts of a horse, blankets and jewellery. But the missionary replied, ‘My God doesn’t want the chief’s horses, blankets and jewellery. My God wants the chief himself’.

The chief smiled and said, ‘You have a very wise God. For if I give myself to him, he also gets my horses and blankets and jewellery’.

Do you understand what that chief understood? If God owns you, then he owns your time, your money and everything else too. To those of you who are not yet Christians let me challenge you to give yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why should you do so? Let me try to explain.

God’s rightful claim

God has a rightful claim to own all people and all things because he is the Creator and owner of everything. ‘The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains. The world and those who dwell in it’ (Psalm 24:1). Everything we own – money, possessions and life itself – are on loan to us from God. These things have been entrusted to us. We are managers of someone else’s trust fund.

But there is a second reason why we should give ourselves to God – because he gave himself for us! Jesus Christ, God’s Son, gave himself to death on a cross to pay for the redemption of sinners like ourselves.

Jesus’ blood didn’t just pay for sins; it paid for the sinnershe died to redeem. It purchased them to be God’s own possession. Thus God has a double claim to own us – not only as our Creator but also as the Saviour who paid to rescue us from sin and judgement.

We are not our own

To those who receive his salvation God says, ‘You are not your own; you were bought at a price’ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This reminds us that we cannot receive God’s gift of salvation without, at the same time, giving ourselves to him.

And that has big implications for the way we live. If you become a Christian then how you disburse God’s ‘trust fund’ (everything God has given you) will reflect God’s own values and priorities.

Does it put you off – that if you become a Christian everything you have belongs to the Lord? Are you repelled by the cost of trusting Christ? By the thought of treating your life and money as not really yours but God’s?

It probably does. You might prefer to have God stay out of your life, your choices and your possessions. But, like it or not, there really are no such things as ‘your’ life and possessions. They have always belonged to God – who allows you to look after them for a few short years.

The key to freedom

The idea of handing yourself over to God might not appeal to you at first, but it will turn out to be a privilege and a joy. To spend your life and substance in the service of God honours him and blesses you enormously.

You might think you will have more freedom if you reject God’s claim of ownership and insist on being your own person, with no responsibility to him. But you won’t, because you will be burdened by all sorts of worries and problems that possessions and ‘freedom’ bring into a life without Christ.

If you choose to spend your life without God, you will spend eternity without God. But if you accept God’s claim of ownership – if you put yourself and everything you have in God’s hands – you will be blessed.

When God owns you, your problems are his problem. Your cares are his concern. God will guide you and help you flourish in this life and for eternity. The key to spiritual freedom and comfort is knowing that you are not your own but belong to Jesus as his treasured possession.

In full and glad surrender,
I give myself to you.
Yours utterly and only
And evermore to be.

O Son of God who loves me,
I will be yours alone.
And all I have, and all I am
Shall henceforth be your own.

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