The Worst (and Best) Gift I Ever Received

I don’t remember a lot about my childhood birthdays but there is one particular moment from one particular birthday that lingers even now, over thirty years later. One of those “flashbulb” memories, if you will.

It was my sixth birthday, and my parents threw a large bonfire-type get together with my entire extended family. The celebration was held in our barn, and there was hot dogs and s’mores over an open fire, a hayride with all my cousins, and lots nighttime hide-and-seek in the fields surrounding our house. One of the best types of birthdays, in my opinion.

But what stands out the most to me was one particular gift I received from my grandmother. She was always a sweet, thoughtful woman, who gave the best presents. I always looked forward to hers the most. So it was with no shortage of anticipation that I ripped off the blue wrapping paper–yep, still remember that it was blue–……to find a Mr. Coffee coffee pot.

A coffee pot.

For a 6 year-old.

Tears welled up in my eyes. My grandmother’s present, the one I’d been looking forward to the most, had disappointed in a MAJOR way. Yes, there were other presents. But this was my grandma. I adored her and I thought she adored me….and then she showed up at my party with the most baffling and inconsiderate gift (not even my PARENTS drank coffee!) I remember thrusting the box at my mom and rushing from the barn.

To make a long story short, it took over thirty minutes for my mother to, first of all, FIND me, and then convince me to come back to the barn and open the coffee pot box.

Because it wasn’t a coffee pot, of course. My grandma had simply used that to package the gift. Inside was the most beautiful piggy bank full of money. Not just one gift but TWO.

Gifts I viewed as worthless and nearly rejected…all because of the packaging.

We humans are so fickle, aren’t we?

When Jesus came to earth, His “packaging” wasn’t exactly what the Jews had been expecting. As foretold by the prophet Isaiah, “he had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (53:2b-3)

Jesus didn’t look like the Messiah. He didn’t act like the Messiah. (At least according to the wisest men of the times). Even one of his soon-to-be disciples asked upon hearing about Him, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1: 46) The greatest gift God ever gave mankind was rejected and counted as worthless. So much so that He was put to death for not just failing expectations, but offending them.

It wasn’t until after His resurrection that His true worth was revealed.

As with anything within the pages of Scripture, it’s easy to put down the people of Jesus’s time as foolish or ignorant. We think that we ourselves would never miss out on God in the flesh standing right in front of us. But even those of us now who have the benefit of hindsight through the lens of the Resurrection sometimes reject Jesus.

And I’m not just talking about atheists and non-believers.

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10: 26-29, emphasis mine).

The use of the word “trampled” in the verse above has the Greek connotation of scorn or counting something as worthless. The implication here is that those of us who have seen the light and accepted the salvation offered by Jesus–but yet keep on living a life of sin–have, in a sense, rejected His work on the cross. We’ve counted as worthless the blood He spilled.

You see, once we come to faith in Jesus, we are freed from the bondage of sin. Jesus gave His life for ours–and now our lives belong to Him. If we profess Him as Lord then deliberately go right back into our sin, we are “trampling” on the work of the cross. He died so we can choose a better way. Choosing a life instead marked by sin is, in a sense, saying that sin is better.

You may never say it with your lips, but your actions speak loud and clear: Jesus’s sacrifice was worthless.

It’s a hard and extremely convicting truth to hear. Every time I choose my sin–because let’s be honest, sin is a choice; I know right and choose wrong–I am rejecting Jesus’s work on the cross as not enough.

“Yes, Jesus, I know You’ve freed me, but look at this shiny, pretty sin over here. I think I want that more.”

“Yes, Jesus, I know You’ve given me everything, but what I really want is this thing over that I know is bad for me but just looks so darn tempting.”

I’m rejecting His gift and choosing another one for myself. One that in no way, shape, or form will ever measure up to the true worth of the one He’s already given me.

It’s just like my “coffee pot” all those years ago. I rejected that box based on its appearance, not knowing the true value of the gift inside. From the outside, Christianity can look like a bunch of out-dated, out-of-touch rules and regulations; why would I want Truth with a capital “T” when I can just make up my own based on my feelings? It’s not until you dig deep–open the box–that you discover the true merit within: a relationship with the One who made you, knows You, and loves you so much that He was willing to die for you.

Jesus is a lot of things. But worthless isn’t one of them. Let us not count His sacrifice as cheap, His gift as paltry, by either rejecting Him outright or–worse–accepting Him and then refusing to let go of our sin. No matter how appealing that sin may look on the outside, I can guarantee that the treasure inside that “ugly old coffee box” of Jesus, is much, much better.

Even better than a piggy bank full of money.

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