“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”2 Corinthians 9:15
Some people would say the best Christmas gift is a gift that meets a very legitimate need. A few years ago I was conducting the funeral service for an 84-year-old friend of mine, and his daughter-in-law wrote a tribute about her father-in-law where she reminisced about a particular Christmas in which this man had purchased a special Christmas gift for his wife of many years. She wrote, “It was meticulously boxed and wrapped by dad, himself. It was undoubtedly one of the most precious gifts I’ve ever seen. Not diamonds, pearls, or a fur coat, it was a year’s supply of all of mom’s preferred toiletries: multiple cans of hairspray, antiperspirant, talcum powder, and so forth. To me it was a beautiful expression of a mature love that said, ‘I know you better and love you more than anyone else on the face of the earth, and I know what you need and use every single day of the year and I’m going to make sure you have it.’”
If I bought a gift like that for my wife I’d be out on my ear. I’d be the first single pastor in the history of First Baptist Dallas. But that means something to some people. They like gifts that are practical and meet a real need. But I think you all would agree with me that the very best of gift of all was one that was valuable, one that came from somebody we really cared about, and a gift that met a basic need. And of course, all those things describe the gift that God sent to us at Bethlehem.
In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul writes about giving. As he tries to motivate the people to give a generous, sacrificial gift, he points to the best example of generous, sacrificial giving, and that is God’s gift to us. And he closes the chapter on a high note with this climactic statement: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.” Jesus Christ was a gift.
Personally, I don’t believe Christmas is really about warm feelings or eggnog or even family time. Christmas really is about gift-giving. That’s the whole purpose of Christmas: gift-giving. It’s about God giving us the greatest gift of all: the gift of forgiveness through Christ. And anytime we give a gift to somebody we ought to remember God’s great love for us in giving us Christ.
Then Paul says, “This gift is an indescribable gift.” Now you know that’s quite an admission from the apostle Paul. Paul was a learned man. He had more degrees than you could shake a stick at. He studied under the greatest intellect of the day, Gamaliel. Not only that, he was a published author, but he couldn’t find a known word to describe Jesus Christ. So Paul uses a word that isn’t found anywhere else in the New Testament. It’s translated as “indescribable.” The King James says it’s “unspeakable.” But many lexicographers believe Paul actually just made up the word. He was looking for a word, kind of like “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Mary Poppins made up a word, and so did the apostle Paul. He said, “When it comes to describing Jesus Christ, all I can say is, ‘He is God’s indescribable gift.’”
Somebody has said that if man’s greatest need had been for information God would have sent an educator. If our greatest need had been for money God would have sent an economist. But our greatest need was for forgiveness and that’s why God sent a savior. God’s gift of Jesus Christ is truly indescribable. That’s what we celebrate today and every day. Merry Christmas!