Occasionally you might receive multiple gifts in the same package. It can be fun to keep digging through the box and find additional gifts hidden beneath the packing peanuts! Perhaps there will be some multifaceted gifts like that under your tree this Christmas!
During the Advent season, the Church focuses on four major themes from one Sunday to the next: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Perhaps you are remembering these four blessings as you light advent candles in your home or in your church sanctuary.
Each of these four gifts is also proclaimed for us in one Scripture passage: Romans 5:1-11. While this is certainly not the only place in God’s Word where Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love are all featured, it’s where I’d like to draw your attention for just a moment.
Gift #1: “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God … and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Rom. 5:2b; 4b; 5) Christian hope goes much deeper than wishes or dreams. Christian hope is the gift of faithful assurance that comes from God’s promises and His ongoing involvement in our lives. As a Christian, you know that you’re awaiting God’s glory! You know that He’s working in your life, even in “crosses” & difficulties. And you know that God will fulfill your hope in Christ – He’s given you the Holy Spirit as a guarantee!
Gift #2: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” (Rom. 5:1-2) WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD! These five little words make an eternal difference! This is why Christmas and Christ’s cross and resurrection are all-important! By coming, dying, and rising to new life for you, Christ has made peace between you and your Creator! You get to live in His peace now and forever!
Gift #3: “… and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope … For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Rom. 5:2b-4; 10-11) Christ gives us joy in our reconciliation with God – which He has already accomplished for us! He gives us joy in our present ups and downs – even in our suffering, and in our future with the Lord. This is not the sort of “joy” that comes and goes, but the joy of our unchanging Lord Himself!
Gift #4: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us … For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:5:b; 6-8) God’s gift of love is a gift like no other: a love that moves Christ to give His all (His life itself) so that you will receive all that God wants you to enjoy with Him forever – His peace, joy, love, and all the amazing gifts of being in His everlasting presence!
Admittedly, I’ve chopped up Romans 5 a bit to highlight these four gifts packaged in this one chapter (you can explore this passage some more on your own), but here’s the point: These four gifts remembered each Advent are more than just some faith concepts. Yet these four gifts do all come in the same “package” – Jesus Himself! HE is your Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love this Christmas and always!