Last year Christmas came on a Sunday...and sitting in Church that Christmas listening to our pastor's sermon I was touched by the way children receive gifts. Yes, I know sometimes they can be greedy, and seem ungrateful, and they can be all too transparent when they don't like a gift. But I was struck by something else about their receiving I hadn't thought of before.
Our pastor talked about how the Shepherds came to Jesus with nothing...no gift in their hands like the wisemen who came later. He went on to say how we tend to have trouble receiving when we don't have anything to give back: There's that awkward feeling when we are given a gift, and don't have one to give in return. But when we come to Jesus that's how we come...empty handed. And that's how he takes us.
As he spoke, I noticed the children sitting in the pew in front of me, and my own children beside me, and I thought of how they accept gifts. They accept them freely without any expectation that they should have anything to give back. And I was reminded of the verse that said that if you want to enter the kingdom of heaven, you have to become like a child.
"He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "
- Matthew 18: 2-4, NIV
That is the only way we can come to him, like a child. Even the best we have could not "pay him back" for the gift he gave...so we come with nothing but gratitude in our hands...gratitude and repentance and trust. And we receive the costly gift of salvation...and all the other numerous gifts He loves to give his children.