December 24 I Thursday
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith––and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God––not by works, so that no one can boast.” —Ephesians 2:8-9
Our culture has propagated the story of Santa coming into our homes the night before Christmas to drop off gifts. But there is one stipulation: we have to be good. All of us are familiar with the song “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”
Growing up, some of us may have shared that same perception of God, believing God is always watching us, so we ought to put on our best behaviour. Our Santa Claus perception of God is that somehow, by our good behaviour, we could earn enough favour and He would be pleased with us. But in reality, we have the message backwards.
When Moses presented the Ten Commandments to the Israelites, it was to make us aware of our condition––that nothing we do can earn our salvation. All of our life, we could have come to church and thought that Christianity is a list of non-negotiable rules that we had to follow. We strive to be good, just for goodness sake, as though somehow, by our efforts and by our best try, we might earn God’s favour. Yet, keeping the law and rules was never intended to save us, it was only intended to reveal our need of God. The Old Covenant was to make us aware of our need of grace. In fact, God’s grace is what actually changes people.
The message of Christmas is that God clothed Himself with humanity and extended grace towards us so that the relationship that was fractured between us, because of our sinful choices, could be satisfied by His finished work on the cross, and not by our best efforts. On Christmas day, when we sit down with family and loved ones, we may have a tradition of exchanging gifts. When someone gives us a gift, what do we do? Do we say, “Oh no, I’m not worthy!”? Of course not! We take the gift and rip the wrapping paper to see what we got. Once we have opened the gift, we respond with two simple words to the giver: “Thank you!”
God has extended a gift towards humanity in the person of Jesus Christ, not because we deserve it or because we have earned His favour. Instead it is a favour and grace from Him towards humanity; a gift offered to us free of charge. The only caveat is we have to acknowledge that we need it. If we have never extended our hands to receive God’s gift of grace towards us, will we choose to receive it today and tell Him, “Thank You!”?
Prayer: Gracious God, I receive Your gift of Jesus Christ humbly with gratitude. Thank You for giving me this gift of grace so freely. Praise You!