The Seven Gifts of Christmas #2

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The second gift of Christmas is sandwiched between two statements that seem, at first glance, to have little to do with anything good.

John copied down the message that God had given him for the church in Smyrna. This church was located in what is modern day Turkey in what was a strategic port city and trading centre.

The message begins with a reference to the death and resurrection of Christ, not particularly ominous until we read the last part of the message which says: “He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death” (Revelation 2:11b). The “bread” in this “sandwich” leaves us with the feeling that the “meat” might not be something that will tickle our taste buds. And we’d be right about that.

God’s message to Smyrna was “Be faithful, even to the point of death” (2:10). The believers in this city were going to have their faith severely tested. They were going to be persecuted; some were going to die. The assurance at the beginning of the message, that Christ triumphed over death, is carried through to the end as the message concludes with the promise that death will not harm those tested by it.

The second gift that I need to give back to Christ is faithfulness in the midst of testing. I don’t expect to be persecuted for my faith, certainly not to the death. But the message is clear. Even when “death” is represented by misunderstanding, misrepresentation, discouragement, weariness in ministry, or anything else that might tempt me to walk away from the task the Lord has assigned, I need to give faithfulness back to the Lord as my Christmas gift to Him.

He who remained faithful in spite of the challenges, and conquered death for me, promises that death, whether that death be an attack on the physical, emotional, material, or spiritual, it will not conquer me as I remain faithful to Him.

This second gift of Christmas hooks neatly onto the first gift — a return to my first love — making the two inseparable. I need to build my life on my relationship with Him so that, when the testing comes, I have the fullness of Christ in me which allows me to be faithful to Him no matter what.

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