Gift Giving

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

Wages and gifts are two different things.

I realize that statement sounds like it comes from the file of “it goes without saying.”

However, there are some different ideas about gift-giving, so much so that I think it is a good idea to say something!

The different idea of gift giving that I’m talking about is that of reciprocity. That giving a gift to someone obligates the receiver to purchase a gift of commensurate value to reciprocate the gift.

But that isn’t what gift-giving was ever meant to be!

Giving a gift was originally meant to be motivated by the love the giver has for the receiver of the gift!

The greatest gift ever given was that of the forgiveness of sins – and the resultant eternal life – from God to us.

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has forgiven our sins and given us eternal life in heaven. And this is a gift.

Not a reward. Not a payment for services rendered. And never meant to be reciprocal.

God did not save us in response to us either being good enough or getting close enough to him first.

It is a gift – indeed, it has to be a gift – because “people cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works” (The Augsburg Confession, Article IV Justification, quoted from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, copyright © 2005, 2006 by Concordia Publishing House, p 33).

That is why I believe, teach/preach and confess that “people are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake” (ibid).

In other words, we are saved by grace through faith alone as a completely free gift – to us – from God.

We cannot do anything to earn the gift. Of course, then it wouldn’t be a gift at all, even if we could earn it.

God gives us this gift because he loves us. He forgives that which we did actually earn.

As St. Paul says in Romans 6, “the wages of sin death.”

We earn death and everlasting condemnation because of our sins. Another way of saying this is that a person cannot “do something good and helpful in divine things before his conversion. Because a person is ‘dead in [his] trespasses’ (Ephesians 2:5) before his conversion, there can be no power to work anything good and helpful in divine things” (Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration Article II Free Will quoted from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, copyright © 2005, 2006 by Concordia Publishing House, p 531).

Our sins earn us hell. But thanks be to God that he gives us the free gift of the forgiveness of our sins!

But let us not overlook the truth that while salvation is a free gift, it still has a cost.

It is a free gift to us.

But it cost Jesus everything! He paid the wages of our sins with his sacrificial death on the cross and his glorious resurrection from the dead on the third day!

So, in our own gift giving we can glorify God and proclaim the Gospel by giving gifts freely and without expectation of reciprocity – just as God gave us the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Heavenly Father, God of all grace, govern our hearts that we may never forget your blessings and always thank and praise you for all your goodness in this life until, with all your saints, we praise you eternally in your heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

©2017 True Men Ministries


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