“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich”
(2 Corinthians 8:9).
By nature, humans are not giving. Often, we keep for ourselves what we have. The first words of many children—“no” and “mine”—easily fly out especially during fits of self-centeredness.
Each year, the media reports on Christmas spending. For 2018, the average American supposedly spent $1,000 for Christmas gifts, decorations, food, and related non-gift items. Perhaps these reports amaze us—considering that we are not, by nature, giving.
At Christmas, however, we all would do well to ponder Paul’s words to the Corinthians, noting Christ’s giving nature and his reason for it.
Paul reminds us of Jesus’ grace, God’s unconditional gift. It is “unasked, unforced, unearned” (Where Shepherds Lately Knelt, stanza 4). “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” is God’s gift to all sinners.
Paul then illustrates grace. “That though [Christ] was rich, yet for your sake he became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9) Christ set aside heaven’s glories to become human. Although he is true God, Jesus took “the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” [Philippians 2:7]. He experienced pain, sorrow, and temptation firsthand. Yet, through it all, “he committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” [1 Peter 2:22].
His reason for doing this was “so that you through his poverty might become rich.” Jesus lived to save sinners. Earlier in Corinthians, Paul states how Christ bore the world’s sin on the cross “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Unlike anyone else could, Christ humbled himself to offer forgiveness, peace, and eternal life—the most precious Christmas gifts of all.
There is nothing wrong with giving Christmas gifts. It is great to see Christmas decorations. Celebrating Christmas with family and friends can be joyful. But, for us, these simply point to the One who surrendered his riches “so that [we] through his poverty might become rich.”
God bless your Advent meditations and your joyous Christmas celebration.
May he also bless your New Year.
Jim Grasby is principal of Lakeside Lutheran High. Reach him at 920.648.2321 or firstname.lastname@example.org