11The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, 12training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, 13while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14It is he who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.
We used to have Christmas gift exchanges in the office where I used to work. Everyone who wanted to participate put their name in the hat, and we would draw from the hat to determine who would buy for whom. There was always a $20 limit on the gift with a $15 minimum, so that no one would be too extravagant or feel burdened by trying to buy something they couldn’t afford.
I always liked this concept of limiting the price of the gift because it brought balance and equity to the task (at least on the surface). And I find myself wondering: what if God required the same level of equity in God’s gift-giving and our response? Would we be required to give at the same level as God? That’s a pretty tough ask, isn’t it? I mean, God gave Godself to us, in human form when Jesus came into the world. How are we to match that?
The answer is that we can’t.
In Titus, Paul tells us that it is the grace of God that brings salvation through Jesus to all. The whole point of the word grace is that it is unmerited—we don’t earn it or deserve it; it is a gift. This statement is sometimes overused, I think, in our attempt to help others know the love of God; but when is it more appropriate than at Christmas? God’s love for humanity is so great that God is willing to give God’s divinity human form to share in our pain, our struggle for justice and peace, as well as our joys and delights.
God become flesh is the gift of accompaniment. God’s gift is a comfort to us as we try to make sense of a world that is anything but equitable. God’s gift is joy to us as we realize how much God loves each of us. And God’s gift is hope to us as we hear the words that God’s presence teaches us how to live lives of love and gift to our neighbor.
God’s grace saves us, purifies us, encourages us, and strengthens us to give ourselves to the world, as Jesus gave himself to us—freely, as a gift, out of love.
Be blessed these days in the knowledge that God loves and walks with you.