One of the complaints we hear consistently during the Christmas season is the increasing high cost of everything. In spite of their efforts to undercut their competition, all the merchants and manufacturers seem to find a way to increase the prices they charge for their products. As the economy ebbs and flows, we Americans dig deep in our pockets (not to mention our "plastic") to pay the high cost of gifts and presents.
Now, as John's Gospel tells us in the well-known verse above, the original Christmas came with a high cost, too! In fact, it came with the highest cost. Presents and gifts for us are really more "additions." That is, they simply add to the vast amount of things we already own. On the scale of the world, we Americans are wealthy --- therefore, we sacrifice very little to purchase our presents. We sacrifice very little, and our lifestyles change hardly at all.
The true spirit of Christmas is exemplified, though, in the great sacrifice for the first Christmas present. God GAVE His "one and only Son." He gave the gift of highest value --- a true "one of a kind." Why? Because He loved us! Our expressions of love and our gifts to one another are but shadows and reminders of the Divine example two thousand years ago. God's gracious gift not only enlightens our hearts, but it inspires our emulation, also.
On December 12, 1912, a young Christian worker, Bill Borden, left for missionary service in China among the Muslims. He planned a period of language study in Egypt. Young Borden was reared in an upper-class family in Chicago, and he was the heir to a fortune made in real estate and milk production. As a lad, he volunteered at Chicago's Moody Church under Pastor R.A. Torrey to missions service.
He studied at Yale University and aimed his life and his fortune to missions. His mother, though, had reservations about his sacrifice. On the eve of Borden's departure, she fell asleep asking over and over, "Is it, after all, really worthwhile?" She later recorded that in the morning, a still small voice spoke in her heart, "GOD so loved the world that HE gave HIS only Son..."
A month after arriving in Egypt, Borden contracted spinal meningitis and died within two weeks. When they came for his body, a note was found under his pillow --- "No Reserve! No Retreat! No Regrets!"
When newspapers carried the story of his sacrifice, the numbers of young people volunteering for missions increased significantly. His sacrifice WAS worth it!
AND --- that's also true of the first Christmas! God held nothing back in the gift of Jesus and did not retreat from His gracious offering. The Scriptures recount NO Divine regrets as He Who was God became flesh.
As you continue your Advent preparations this week, why don't you adopt Borden's testimony for your own motto? "No Reserve! No Retreat! No Regrets!" What a difference it could make this Christmas for you!