A Gift, Not A Reward (Newsletter 4-10)

By Daniel Buford

I HAVE TWO SONS. The first son has been a good son. But the second son-he has been a good son also. While God and a godly wife have blessed me with two good sons, the sons have not always been good. (Although I would be hard pressed to list their bad deeds and seasons.) But I have given them gifts every Christmas of their life. Whether they have been good or bad, I have never given them coal or switches in their stockings. Their gifts are just that­ gifts, not rewards.

I have not given the boys gifts based on their behavior. While I did reward them at times with certain privileges, I gave them gifts because I loved them.

Rewards are for good deeds done, right attitudes displayed, and words fitly spoken. Gifts are “just because I love you.” Even bad girls and boys get good gifts, which is perhaps contrary to the Santa philosophy. ”

As an earthly father gives good gifts to his children, how about our heavenly Father? What is His philosophy of gift giving?

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good ‘things to them that ask him? (Luke 11:11).

God gifted us with His Son, not because we deserved it, not because we earned it, but because He loved us. His love for humanity was the motivating force for the greatest gift of all.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3: 16).

There is an old saying, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” A knowing horse trader will always look in the horse’s mouth to determine the horse’s age. A “full mouth,” when all the horse’s teeth have grown in, occurs when the horse is at least five years old. “Smooth mouth” is when the cups of the incisor teeth have been ground smooth, generally occurring when the horse is twelve years old. A “smooth but a good mouth” means the horse is over twelve but still has good teeth. When the horse gets older, its gums recede and the teeth appear longer, giving rise to the phrase, being “long in the tooth.” As a horse ages, its teeth become worn. When they become too worn, the horse will have difficulty eating and will be hard to keep in good condition.

When gifted with a horse, don’t insult the giver by “looking a gift horse in the mouth” to see how old the horse is, to determine its value. It is about as bad as looking for a price tag on the necktie or purse you got for Christmas. Instead, just graciously accept the gift. And when the gift giver is as good as God is, it is always a good gift. He will never withhold something good from us and He will never give us something bad for us. As Joan Ewing wrote and Murrell Ewing sang, “Jesus, Jesus, You know what’s best for me.”

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James I: 17).

Tsaiah declared “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6) What a gift! What an undeserved gift! What an unearned gift! What a timely gift in each of our lives! In fact, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

In bringing that gift to full-orbed completion, “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman,” and “sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts” (Galatians 4:4–7). His gift kept giving and giving.

On that special Day of Pentecost, the birthday of the church, the gift came with the sound of a rushing mighty wind. As the onlookers saw and heard the gift falling upon each of the believers gathered in the Upper Room, and after they heard the convicting message of Peter as he stood with the eleven, being pricked in their hearts, they asked an all-important question: What must we do? Peter gladly answered their question with the message from the Giver Himself:

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remis­sion of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar oft: even as many as the Lord our God shall call (Acts 2:38-39).

Amazing choice of words-not just “receive the Holy Ghost,” but “receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The gift! Not something the repentant believer could earn. Not something the repentant believer
deserved. But “just because I love you.”