Ties, socks, underwear and aftershave are the standard gifts for the middle-aged man at Christmas. As an average thirty-something family man I have received more than my fair share over the years.
Of course, as a dutiful husband, father, son and son-in-law, I always try to look pleased as I open my gifts on Christmas morning, uttering some well-rehearsed platitudes like ‘just what I needed’, or ‘that will come in useful’.
It is true what they say: it’s the thought that counts. But sometimes I have a sneaky suspicion that the giver didn’t think at all!
Now don’t misunderstand me. Like any other older man, I need ties, socks, underwear and aftershave – but not for Christmas! It’s hard to work up enthusiasm when you haven’t even got through last year’s supply!
Am I being selfish? Or do I speak for all men when I say, ‘No socks this year!’ However, I suspect my cries will go unheeded and most of my presents will again go to the bottom draw, unwanted and unused.
Why give, anyway?
The reason, of course, for exchanging gifts at Christmas is to remind us of God’s gift to the world – the Lord Jesus Christ. How sad it is, therefore, when God’s great gift is unwanted and unused.
Yes, it’s true that at Christmas many people superficially acknowledge the coming of Jesus into the world. But by January he is consigned to the ‘bottom drawer’ of their minds – unwanted and unused.
Yet God’s gift to us in the person of his Son is the most precious and necessary gift we can ever receive. ‘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’ (John 3:16).
Those who believe in Christ have deliverance from hell (they will not perish) and an assurance of heaven (they have eternal life).
How disappointed God must be with his creation when they reject such a wonderful gift!
When our children were very young, visiting friends gave our eldest boy a small, wooden, hand painted and handcrafted lorry. It was the kind of present that grownups would appreciate, reminding them of a simple, uncomplicated life of days gone by.
However, to a three-year-old who had just received a brightly coloured, plastic, action-man jeep, packed with gadgets and functions, the lorry looked like a block of wood on wheels.
I still remember the hurt on the faces of our friends when our toddler threw it to the ground declaring it to be ‘wick’ and going back to his other presents. No amount of apology or remonstrating with the child could remove the insult that had been made.
How God must be grieved and insulted when we, his creatures, refuse that greatest of all gifts, that of his own Son to save us from our sins.
Our personal need
Ties, socks, and aftershave, even a handcrafted wooden lorry, may be unwanted and unneeded. But the Lord Jesus Christ is the one gift we cannot afford to reject.
Not only is it the height of insult to God to reject his Son, but it is also the height of folly to reject someone whom we so desperately need and who can do so much for us. We need, personally and individually, to receive God’s great gift to us.
Why? Because the Bible says: ‘to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God…’ (John 1:12).