2 Corinthians 9:15
There are many reasons why you and I may be unable to describe a Christmas gift. We might be so overcome with emotions that “words fail us” as we sometimes say. Or, it is possible that we might be unable to identify the gift. We might open the gift and say “it’s beautiful, just what I always wanted” or we might care so little for a gift that we might not even bother to describe it. Our failures would not make the gift indescribable, however, for there would always be someone else who could do what we failed to do.
The salesperson could describe the gift and probably did before you purchased it. So could the manufacturer. Some years ago Richard Burton, the actor, gave Elizabeth Taylor the largest diamond that anyone had given to another person. It was an extraordinary gift. On the contrary, it was described in every newspaper in the United States, so that soon nearly everyone knew the diamond’s size, color, shape, weight, and value.
What can possibly make a gift indescribable? Since all human gifts are describable, it is quite clear that the only thing that can make a gift indescribable is that it is more than human. It has to have something of God mixed with it. And, of course, that was precisely Paul’s thinking when he wrote 2 Corinthians 9:15. He had been thinking of human gifts, the gifts of the Corinthians to the poor in Jerusalem. But the subject of giving had turned his mind to God, and the gift of Christ to his people, which is the greatest of all possible gifts, and so Paul ended his comment by referring to that diving gift.
He said, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.” When Paul speaks of Jesus as God’s indescribable gifts, it is evident that he is not merely toying with words. He is only saying what is true and is as true for us as it was for him. Why is the gift beyond the description? The first reason is the nature of the gift itself. The gift is Christ. Jesus described himself as being one with God the Father, and the Scriptures everywhere testify to that fact. Even His name, “Jesus” means “Jehovah saves.” Emmanuel means “God with us.” If Jesus is God, which He is, we cannot describe Him because God Himself is indescribable. Jesus is not only God, but He is also man as well, and we cannot adequately describe the incarnation.
The gift is indescribable not only because of who Jesus is but also because of what He has done. Jesus came to provide salvation for us by his sacrifice on the cross, and we cannot adequately describe that either. God has given us terms by which to understand it. We have words like sacrifice, atonement, propitiation, and reconciliation. But how did Jesus achieve reconciliation by dying? The nature and work of Jesus Christ are beyond our full understanding and, therefore, also beyond our powers of description.
The gift of God is also indescribable because of the grace by which it is given. Most of our gifts have nothing to do with grace; we give because the recipients of our gifts have some claim upon us. They are members of our family, people who have helped us in some way, or individuals who gave to us last year or at some time. Even when we give to someone who has no special claim upon us, someone who is perhaps just in great need of physical or material needs, we usually do so because of some recognized obligation due to us as members of the human race. But God is not a member of the human race, and our race is in rebellion against him. We are his enemies, yet it was “while we still sinners (enemies) Christ died for us.”
(Roman 5:8). The great gift of Christ is granted not to God’s friends, but to his enemies, to those who in their sins have risen up against God and declared war against the almighty. To every one of us suffering, as we and the world are under the destructive power of sin, God offers his gift of “indescribable” grace.
Christmas does not offer rejoicing to a selected few, and it cries out “joy to the world!” The assurance is that “Christ Jesus came into the world” not to build big and costly places of worship, not to give his followers earthly power and rule but to “save sinners.” He came not to establish social service, social consciousness, and social justice, but first and foremost, he came to seal our salvation.
Finally, the reason the gift is indescribable is the effects it produces. The gift of God accomplishes everything in those who believe:
· Jesus brings forgiveness of sins according to the riches of God’s grace.
· The gift of God brings justification before the war of God’s justice.
· The gift of God brings adoption into God’s family.
· The gift of God presents us not only as children of God but as heirs of God.
· The gift of God provides the gift of the Holy Spirit, who unites us with Christ forever.
· The gift of God brings divine peace that goes beyond circumstances and is beyond human effort to describe.
· The gift of God provides us a home in heaven prepared for us by Christ.
We need to thank God for this “unspeakable” gift. Have you thanked God for his great gift of salvation?
At Christmas, you and I thank all kinds of people for more gifts than we probably should have. It is “thank you for this” and “thank you for that,” but what about God? Is it not wrong, and even offensive, to be profusely thankful for pens, calendars, clothes, watches, books, etc., and overlook the one gift alone that is beyond all power of human description? If that gift is as great as the Bible says it is and is as wonderful as hearts and minds acknowledge it to be, then we should literally cry out with Paul, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.” Thanks be to God for Jesus.
Thanks can also be expressed in deeds. As a Christian, your first deed is to share him. You share him in acts of service, and you share him by speaking to others about him. Notice that in the Christmas story, nearly everyone spoke to others about God’s gift.
This Christmas, be intentional and thank God for his indescribable gift through Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.
On behalf of my wife, Pauline, and the Regional Staff of the Church of God of Prophecy in the Mid-Atlantic Region, I wish you, your family, and your congregation a joy-filled Christmas and a Hope-Filled New Year.
Woodroe Thompson, National Bishop
Church of God of Prophecy