God is a giving God. His giving is beyond our full comprehension. His giving is not an occasional decision on His part; it is characteristic of His very nature. He gives because of who and what He is, not because of who or what we are.
God’s giving is of grace. None of His abounding gifts to angels or to men are deserved. God owes no man anything. God does not need to repay a favor or seek another’s favor. He does not give to gain. He does not give out of any obligation. All that God has ever given has been an expression of His free grace.
Men may give tit for tat. Aunt Sally will give me something special, and so I must give her something special. A gift exchange is often nothing more than that, a gift exchange. Even when the gifts are not appreciated, we say, “It’s the giving that counts.” God’s good gifts may be unappreciated, but they are never impractical.
People who can afford to do so sometimes search out an unusual gift. It may be something the recipient will greatly treasure. It may only be something that strikes the giver’s fancy. It may be given only for the momentary laugh of others when it is unwrapped. A few gifts leave the impression that the one giving it has taken the opportunity to display his great wealth, his exquisite expenditure for the occasion.
We can examine our own hearts to weigh the stimulus for our giving. We cannot see or comprehend the depth of the love of our gracious God that is manifest in His amazing giving to all men, and to His own.
God has given life. That’s something no man can give. Parents have conveyed that life to us, and we should be grateful to them. But God gave it in the first place, and each new life is a part of His provision. We have ability to give thanks to our Creator each new day. We especially rejoice with each new life placed into our care. Life is precious, without question! And having eternal life is a marvel meriting our full appreciation.
God has given mankind an amazing world to enjoy and in which to prosper. Though disrupted by Satan, the regularity of the sun, moon, and stars is an asset every generation can depend on. The seasons, the rainfall, fruit in its wondrous variety, the riches of this world yet untouched by the Enemy are abundant provisions by our good God. And the variety of His handiwork! It’s beyond comprehension that every fingerprint is distinct, that each leaf is somewhat different from every other leaf, that DNA patterns are not only distinct but have the potential of bringing to fruition an individual slightly distinct and yet distinctly human! That we behold such gifts of His grace stirs our sense of wonderment. Then, when we realize that He had a design, a purpose for each one of us, we are stimulated to rejoicing and thanksgiving beyond measure.
This world, even disrupted by effects of sin, is so wondrous a gift of grace that our minds endeavor in vain to contemplate the environment of our eternal abode. Such graces have not even entered into the hearts of men. Eternal gifts that await us are greater than our minds can conceive, but as certain as the rising of the sun tomorrow morning.
In all history, no people has been as wondrously blessed by the good Lord as have we, who by His grace have been born in America or have had the privilege of residing in this nation. History books record mostly battles and conquests. More than any other nation, past or present, God has given America liberty and freedom. We appreciate and enjoy our freedom so much, we would like to see the rest of the world so blessed. The spread of democracy does not guarantee the arrival of freedom. The spread of the gospel can produce the hearts and minds to enable liberty to function freely.
Our nation has been free from the destruction of wars, with some exceptions, especially the terrorists’ war waged against us. We have not deserved such by our merit, whereas other nations and peoples have suffered severe destructions, even genocide. We can thank the God who controls history for His special goodness to us. His gift of an undisturbed peaceful life is one we should treasure and endeavor to protect.
We in this century can be thankful for numerous “conveniences” of life. Inventions and productivity have been the apparent means; the providential control and guidance of our gracious God has been behind the scenes. We are the generation most favored through centuries of existence with more “stuff” to enhance daily life than we can assemble.
Medications and health care. The world may think of these solely as advances in science, as the achievements of human discovery. Of course, they were there all the time, a part of original creation. They are to be included in our list of God’s gracious gifts. We should be thankful for the existence of them, for the discovery of the value of them, and for the abundant availability of medications and surgical advances for our benefit.
Every breath I take is a grace gift from my loving God, and when I fail to take another, the greater gifts awaiting in glory will be mine. I can and should thank my God for every special gift of life. All I have and am, I have received from a giving gracious God. In turn, I give Him thanks continually; He deserves it. And as His child, I try to emulate His gracious giving in my love for the brethren, in giving to others, and in particular as I am able to give to the poor and needy who can give nothing in return, but deserve my love and care, because that’s the way my Lord treats me.
The late Warren Vanhetloo, A.B., B.D., Th.M., Th.D., D.D., Adjunct Instructor in and Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, taught at Central and then Calvary Seminaries for over thirty years.
(Originally published in FrontLine • November / December 2006. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)