For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. — Ephesians 2:8
Gift giving and gift receiving are important parts of our own experiences. When birthdays and anniversaries roll around each year, we engage in this traditional pastime. The Bible teaches that when it comes time for gifts, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). The Lord should know. After all, He has given us our greatest gift:
The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 6:23
All the Bible writers were careful to describe eternal life as a free gift and not something that could be earned or deserved. To a Samaritan woman at a well, Jesus declared, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (John 4:10). Peter called for repentance on the Day of Pentecost with the promise to his hearers that, “you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). James added, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). And Paul summed it all up, saying, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
In the Bible promise of this chapter, Paul made plain that a gift has three characteristics. A gift is costly. It costs the giver something to give it. A gift is conditional. It is of no use unless it is received by the one to whom it is intended. And a gift is calculated. Behind the giving of a gift is the desire to benefit and bless the recipient.
GIFTS ARE COSTLY
When we give a gift, it costs us something to do so. But no gift ever cost as much as God’s gift of eternal life. Paul, in our promise, said, “By grace you have been saved,” making plain that the origin of our salvation is found in Him and not in us or any of our human efforts. Salvation is God’s work, provided by His grace, and is not offered in response to any good thing we may have done. It is provided to us wholly because of His grace.
Grace is God’s unmerited and underserved favor toward us. It came at a great price. The Father did not send Jesus to die on the cross to provide the gift of our salvation for us because we kept begging and pleading with Him to do so. It was by His grace alone. Grace can be defined as getting what we don’t deserve. No wonder we call it “amazing.” God’s gift to us came at a high cost, the sacrificial and substitutionary death of His only Son on the cross. Gifts cost us something.
GIFTS ARE CONDITIONAL
What good is a gift you pick out and purchase for someone if they refuse to receive it? Listen to our promise; this gift is received “through faith.” That is it. The gift of God’s grace is conditional on our transferring our faith to Christ alone for our salvation. These words make me want to shout this verse: “Through faith... not of yourselves... the gift of God!” The following verse attests that it is not of works “lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:9). Our faith is the channel through which salvation flows from God to us. It is through faith.
Paul’s repetition of the truth that salvation is “not of ourselves” and “not of works” brings emphasis to his point that it is the “gift of God.” In some other faiths, people do extreme things — even give their lives — in feeble attempts to please their gods and be ushered into Heaven. But it is “by grace... through faith... not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” God is offering His free gift of eternal life to any and all who will simply believe by faith in Christ alone.
What should amaze us is that although God is offering by His grace this free gift, we still have to encourage and exhort people to receive it. Salvation is God’s work (by grace) in God’s way (through faith). Gift giving is costly. But it is also conditional.
GIFTS ARE CALCULATED
Why do you and I give gifts to those we love? It is because we calculate the fact that it will benefit and bless the one who receives it. Otherwise, why bother? It is the same with God’s gift to us. He gives us salvation to benefit us and to bless us. Paul continued with this promise to say, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
When you receive God’s gift of eternal life through faith, you become a new creation, “created in Christ Jesus.” You become His “workmanship.” We derive our English word poem from a transliteration of this Greek word. You are God’s own creation, His own work of art. He so fashioned and formed you that no one else has your specific DNA. You are unique and indescribably valuable to Him.
Think about this the next time you sit around your Christmas tree with your extended family, exchanging gifts. Don’t watch the face of the one opening the gift. Catch a glimpse of the joy on the face of the giver as he or she watches the one they love open the gift. And so it is with God. His gift to us was costly. It is conditional. And it is calculated — to benefit and bless you. Claim this promise — and receive it gladly — through faith.
A PROMISE AND A PRAYER
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.— 2 Corinthians 5:17
Lord, what more can be said than to join Paul in saying, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift”? What a benefit — what a blessing to know You, whom to know is life, not just abundant but eternal. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Excerpted with permission from The Promise Code by O. S. Hawkins, copyright Dr. O. S. Hawins.
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This Christmas, let’s pay attention to the joy of giving and remember the joy of God in giving us the gift of Jesus! Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you about the joy of giving. ~ Devotionals Daily