Is The Gift Really Free?
Haven’t we all had gift-givers in our lives whose gifts we would have preferred to return unopened? And why was that? Not primarily because we didn’t like the gift itself…it was the strings attached. We had learned that a simple “thank- you” wasn’t going to be nearly enough. The acceptance of the gift meant that we were under obligation to the giver. And I’m not talking about proper obligation…to truly be grateful and to take good care of the gift, etc. I’m speaking rather of those persons who sought some sort of control over our lives by means of their gift. As soon as it became clear to us that some sort of manipulation was afoot, we wanted nothing to do with it. And those that held their gift, or the possibility of a gift, over our heads in order to exact their desired response from us were teaching us the opposite of what gift-giving is really about.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8). Perhaps we can understand how it is for many people reading or hearing of this “gift” of God that it doesn’t bring them the joy it should. They roll their eyes and begin looking for the hook. Maybe this is because of their background, or, maybe this is because of us religious folk who have an ability to attach our own agendas to salvation. This results in the twisting and perverting of the priceless and free gift of salvation from God into a complex system of works and control which drains the life right out of people. And they end up thinking that not only have they failed in life, but now God has failed them too. Tragic!
But with all of that said, true gifts nevertheless do (and are supposed to) evoke a response from the receiver don’t they? And it’s not legalistic manipulation at all! Wonderful and precious gifts obligate us. A baby is an amazing gift to a new mom and dad. But my…how life changes after the infant’s arrival. Sleepless nights. Exhausting days. Unanticipated concerns. Doctors. Diapers. Feedings. Washings. Reviewing insurance policies. Continued child-proofing of the home. And, etc., etc.! But all of these, though they bring real pressures, are the obligations of love willingly accepted, graciously fulfilled and left uncounted.
God’s amazing, priceless gift of salvation in Jesus Christ is absolutely free to us! The offer of it to us is entirely by the wondrous grace of God. But it is impossible to estimate the cost and the value of this gift! When we receive it in penitence and humility…with ever-increasing love and deepening gratitude…we are never the same again.
And I was just wondering…as I am here in Ohio on a beautiful, warm, sunshiny day…would you please tell me something His love got out of you that you would have never dreamed possible? And as you share you will be helping us who read to appreciate even more the magnitude of His priceless free gift of salvation which we are glad of heart to admit has place us under a most wonderful loving obligation.