After I married my best friend, David, in July of 1996, we celebrated our nuptials by riding some roller coasters, then settled into our first apartment. We eagerly tore into the mountain of wedding gifts we had received from our friends and family. We recognized several things from our Target registry and were surprised by a lot of other items.
As we opened a set of beautiful, silver candlesticks, a card fell out of the box. I mean, another card fell out of the box in addition to that which had been attached to the giftwrap. At first I was confused, but as we looked at the second card, we chucked as we realized that this item had been re-gifted to us. The couple had likely received it their own very recent wedding and paid it forward to us. Maybe it's just the kind of people we are or the fact that they really are a beautiful set (which I still use), but we thought it kinda funny and in no way diminished our appreciation. And of course, we never confronted our friends with the evidence.
Most of us have done it and I would venture that most of us have also received a re-gifted item, whether or not we knew it at the time. I mean, how many bottles of Bath and Body Works lotion does one elementary school teacher possibly need, right? Maybe you have received something you already have or something you just don't need. Maybe you're just trying to save some money. Or maybe it's just the perfect item for someone on your list.
I would like to encourage another kind of "re-gifting." I'm referring to the commission on our lives to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. We have received a priceless gift that is beyond compare -- a gift that is two-fold (at least). Acts 2:38-39 assures us that once we repent from our sinful nature and follow Christ's example to be baptized, we receive forgiveness of our sins. We are no longer condemned to an eternity separated from God. As if that weren't enough, we also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. What do we do with that gift?
We are saved by grace, not works. We are saved by what Christ did for us, not by anything we do. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Our eternity has been redeemed and we no longer have reason to fear death. (Romans 6:22)
But what about our life? How does this gift affect the way we live until that time that we enter eternal glory?
When we accept God's amazing gift, we die to our old nature and simultaneously receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit -- God's presence in us. Romans 6 explains how this in-dwelling should affect our lives.
"Should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Do not let sin control the way you live, do not give in to sinful desires. Instead, give yourselves completely to God.... So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God." (Romans 6:1-4, 12-13)
The grace that does not change my life will not save my soul. (Charles Spurgeon)
If you recognize the value of the gift you have been given, it should change the way you live your life. If you have given yourself completely to God as instructed, you should be moved to introduce that grace to others. You see, this is a gift that you can keep for yourself and re-gift to others!
We can re-gift the good news -- that Christ died to save us from eternal death. We have knowledge of the cure for a fatal epidemic. Moved by compassion for others, we should share it every chance we get! (Matthew 28:16-20)
We can re-gift our gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has many purposes in our life and if we allow him to do his work in us, we become world changers.
As the Holy Spirit helps us look more and more like Jesus, we become a force for good in this world. We become people who care for the hurting, tend to the sick, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and give hope to the lost.
As the Holy Spirit reminds us that there is no condemnation for us because we are sons and daughters of God, we live a life of bold love. With no fear of death, we can live lives of service and sacrifice to reach others.
As the Holy Spirit unites believers (Ephesians 4:3), the church becomes the hands and feet of Jesus. United by the Holy Spirit, we have a heart for the hurting and can affect real change in our communities and this world -- and ultimately, for eternity.
As the Holy Spirit protects us with the armor of God, we live lives no longer controlled by sin, but we live as instruments to do what brings glory to God. We behave ethically in our professions. We are loving to our neighbors. We are faithful to our spouses. We are not perfect, but we are working to live righteous lives of obedience.
And as the Holy Spirit equips us with spiritual gifts, we are empowered to do amazing things for the Kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us that everyone who receives Christ also receives the Holy Spirit and at least one spiritual gift. The Holy Spirit decides what gift(s) each should have and distributes them accordingly for the purpose of serving in God's Kingdom.
For example, I have the spiritual gift of discernment, an ability to distinguish truth from lies. That gift has helped me to serve effectively in the jail ministry to which God called me. He has also gifted me with mercy, which breaks my heart for people who have made mistakes. Mercy also helps me use discernment sensitively.
Do you know your spiritual gifts? You can find them with THIS ASSESSMENT
And once you have determined your gifts, use them! That is what they are for. We re-gift by using our spiritual gifts to help others and to win the lost for Christ.
The greatest gift ever given was God's only Son, sacrificed to pay the wages of our sin. And it is God's desire that no one should be lost, so we need to share this gift with the world.
To whom will you re-gift this season?