It came into my inbox, almost two months after I thought the pressure of gift giving was over. But there it was – I was faced with the challenge of a white elephant gift exchange. I’ll be honest, these things stress me out. Not because I don’t like giving gifts, but because I don’t like giving gifts that might go to waste. I want to give a gift that will be used well and enjoyed, not collecting dust on a shelf.
This got me thinking about gifts from God. Am I using His gifts well? Or are they sitting on a shelf? For example – the amazing gift of His grace. How should I use this blessing well and really enjoy it?
Consider this quote from D.L. Moody:
“Faith is the gift of God. So is the air, but you have to breathe it; so is bread, but you have to eat it; so is water, but you have to drink it.”
The same is true of every gift from God – we can’t just let the gift of grace sit there. We have to accept it. Consume it. Absorb it into our souls. Let it change us from the inside out and start living as if we have received it.
Like any good vocab nerd, I start “consuming” by defining the word, to internalize its meaning.
- simple elegance or refinement of movement
- (in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings
I love that the first definition includes “simple”. As in, this is not hard. It flows effortlessly. We don’t have to do anything for God to offer the blessing of grace. He offers it freely to everyone. I can definitely accept and consume gifts that are simple and free.
To “absorb it into my soul” I’m going to go a step further. Something that has really been helping my study of the Bible is to understand the Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) words behind the concept. It’s not as boring as it sounds, stay with me!
A prominent Old Testament word describing God’s grace is chesed. It doesn’t translate well into English, but this word speaks of deliverance from enemies, affliction, or adversity. It also represents enablement, daily guidance, forgiveness, and preservation – all of it completely undeserved.
The New Testament word is Charis. It focuses on the provision of salvation, the free and undeserved favor of God to man through Jesus Christ.
What is grace?
Grace means we don’t have to be perfect to be loved – I haven’t done and can’t do anything to deserve it.
Grace means no matter how awful I let myself become, if I’m willing to turn back to Him, He’s willing to forgive me.
Grace means God sent Jesus, His sinless Son, to take on the sin of the entire world and endure hell in our place.*
Absorb that into your soul.
Let it sink all the way in.
This is not a gift that should be sitting on a shelf collecting dust!
This is a gift that makes me feel alive and worthy and cherished.
This is a gift that moves me past the argument of faith versus works for salvation, because I can no longer envision one without the other.
Once you are filled with His grace and love, you will find it is overflowing and endless. There is more than enough. That is because it is meant to be shared. You’ll know when you’ve absorbed the gift because when you are brimming with God’s love, you can’t wait to give the excess away by serving others.
Using this gift means seeing other people through the same lens that He sees you and me through. I can forgive because I am forgiven. I can love because I am loved. You don’t have to be perfect to earn my favor because I don’t have to be perfect to earn His. I am changed from the inside out, accountable for my actions and driven to live a Christian life out of gratitude for this gift.
That is the difference between a gift collecting dust on a shelf and a gift that is used well and enjoyed.
But we don’t always feel this way, do we? Sometimes we feel as if we’re tapped out – like we have nothing left to give, except maybe a random white elephant gift. When we feel like that, we must take time with Him to absorb the gift again. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary. It’s preparing to give your best to the world, and that is only possible if you have fully accepted the gift first.
Don’t just let grace sit there on the shelf. Consume it. Absorb the gift of His sacrifice into your soul. Let it move you into turning away from sin and living your life for Him. Let Him fill you up until you are overflowing and ready to share His grace and love with the world.
*If you, like me, have trouble understanding the extent of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, I encourage you to watch The Passion of the Christ. Full disclosure – it’s brutal. But no other source has come close to opening my eyes to the truth of what He endured for a humanity that doesn’t deserve it.