God doesn’t give white elephants

White elephant gift exchanges always end badly.  

The way the game works, everyone brings a gift then you draw numbers to see who gets to open which present. If you like the gift you opened, you keep it.  If you don’t like it, you can take another gift that’s already been opened.  Once your turn has passed and you have the gift you want, you better just pray no one with a higher number steals your gift and sends something useless your way.

For some of us, the white elephant gift exchange is the most painful part of the office Christmas party. For others, this game embodies everything we feel about God and His “gift” of salvation. We’ve been told that salvation is a free gift, but we’ve also been conditioned to believe that we’re one mistake away from God swooping in and taking it back.

The truth is that God doesn’t give white elephants. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works so that no one can boast.” You didn’t earn your salvation. You can’t exchange it, and He won’t ask for it back.

The Best Thing in Life Really Is Free

We all like to get a little something extra. It’s the reason women wait until free gift time to buy makeup at the cosmetic counter. It’s the reason kids pick cereal based on the toy in the box.  

When we pray to receive Christ, our sins are paid for past, present, and future. That’s a good deal, but that’s not all. We also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enters our hearts at the moment of salvation and guides us as we learn to be more like Jesus.

God will continue a good work in you until Jesus returns. 

Being saved doesn’t make us perfect. Being saved starts the process of being perfected. We will screw up, but we will never screw up enough to push God away. Philippians 1:6 says,“ being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” The Bible doesn’t say, “He will continue a good work in you until you screw up.” No, it says God will continue a good work in you until Jesus returns.

God’s not waiting for you to mess up so He can say, “Well, good try, but I’m going to need your salvation back.”

You Can't Break This Gift

Have you ever received a gift so valuable you were scared to use it? Some of us got china at our wedding and have never eaten a meal on it. If we’re not careful, the fear of losing our salvation can cause us to treat our spiritual lives with the same fragility as a place setting of china. We’re so scared we’re going to make God mad that we never fully embrace the abundant life Jesus died to give us.

When you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins, you are saved. You don’t have to live a life limited by fear. Jesus does everything completely, and there is no sin that His death on the cross didn’t cover. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide and move forward confidently knowing that God’s not changing His mind and you can’t out sin His grace.

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