Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day"1 (Lyrics)
Micah 5:2 – But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf. (NLT)
The gifts circled the tree in a wide radius and reached toward the ceiling.
Early Christmases escape my memory, but the later ones I remember fondly. My grandmother worked at the local hospital as a nursing assistant, and my grandfather drove an ice cream truck. Neither occupation paid much.
My grandmother had a certain amount of money deducted from her salary at the hospital and placed into a Christmas fund. To my grandfather's disdain, she also had a department store credit card. When Christmas rolled around, the first was depleted and the other inflated. The entire new year was spent paying for last year's Christmas abundance.
Christmas Day found our family and my aunt's family gathered at my grandparents' house to celebrate the Saviour's birth and to open the plethora of presents. My cousin and I passed out gifts, our eyes brimming with excitement as we watched the mound of presents grow at each recipient's feet.
Wrapping paper and bows flew in all directions, while yells of excitement waffled through the air, and my grandmother sat snugly on the couch enjoying each moment.
Our parents weren't as excited as they tried to load all the goodies in vehicles too small for the loads. Presents were stored in every crevice with only a small space left for the children. Since these were the days before mandatory seatbelts, children could be stuffed anywhere without parents worrying about a fine. At home, we filled our rooms with our newfound treasures. Some we cherished for years to come and others we played with only a few times before adding them to our not-interested-in piles.
As I reflect on those early Christmases at my grandparents' home, I think of grace — the same grace that God demonstrated with His Christmas gift.
Other than a sense of pleasure and fulfillment, my grandmother received nothing from all the time and effort that she put into making these Christmases special for her children and grandchildren. Her purchases cost her dearly. I remember the totals, and for this time, they were extravagant — especially on her budget. She gave us what we didn't deserve because she loved us. She had no intention of buying our love; she simply wanted to demonstrate hers.
God's gift — in the Christ Child — was similar, but even more far-reaching. We didn't deserve His present, nor can we ever repay Him for it. He doesn't attempt to force us to love Him; He merely wants us to demonstrate our appreciation by accepting His love and by serving Him.
Grace is undeserved favour, and this is what God showed us that early Christmas morning when His baby Son was delivered in a dark stable.
Will you share God's gift of grace with others this Christmas season?
Prayer: Father, this Christmas season, we thank You for gracing us with the greatest Gift of all. Help us to be as gracious in sharing Christ with others as You have been in sharing Christ with us. Amen.