Have you ever felt ripped off after one of those Christmas party gift exchanges? Maybe you spent more than you should have for something really special, but ended up going home with something really dumb – like a jeweled gravy ladle or an old DVD of a B-grade movie. If this has been your experience, I have great news for you. You’ve been invited to a holy gift exchange, and you’re going to come out ahead.
John 3:16 describes the trade. “For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him should not be lost, but should have eternal life” (J.B. Phillips New Testament). Nice Exchange! We give ourselves – our old, rotten, headed-for-destruction selves – to God through our belief in him, and he gives us eternal life. Better yet, he’s not going to change His mind and ask for his gifts back after he gets us and sees what a mess we are. “For God’s gift and His call are irrevocable. He never withdraws them once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.” (Romans 11:29 Amplified Bible).
We sometimes get a Santa complex. Be good so you will get a gift. If you aren’t good, you won’t get anything. Fortunately, that’s not how things work in the spiritual realm. Ephesians 2:8 (Amplified Bible) says, “For it is by free grace [God’s undeserved favor to us] that you are saved through faith. And this salvation is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving] but it is the gift of God.” We can’t be good enough. If we could, Christ wouldn’t have had to die to save us. The gift is free, because we don’t have anything of value to exchange.
The Bible is full of other great gift exchanges. Isaiah 40:29 tells us that, “He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak.” We bring weakness and weariness and go home with strength and power.
Titus 2:14 proclaims that Christ, “gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” We bring sin – even those stinky ones that no one knows about – and go home with purity and enthusiasm to do good things because Christ gave his life. And Isaiah, Chapter 61 lists all sorts of great exchanges we are offered by God.
How blessed we are to have a God who doesn’t bargain, who offers us such bounty and who loves us so deeply! We always come out ahead when we offer ourselves to him!