Romans 6:23 “The Gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When I was a little boy, certain kinds of Christmas or birthday gifts were generally let downs. I didn’t like to get clothes for gifts. Maybe if I had grown up in a third world country where clothing was rare I would have thought differently. But to open the box and find that it contained new pajamas, or even worse socks and underwear, was a big disappointment.
My problem was: I didn’t want what I needed. I wanted what I wanted. My parents generally provided clothing as I needed it. Through the year it trickled into my chest of drawers at various times as I grew or wore things out. Toys, on the other hand, were special. Toys were fun. Toys were generally reserved for Christmas or birthdays. But no child ever suffered a premature death for a lack of toys. They are a want, not a need.
As I’ve gotten older, my tastes have changed. Clothing is just fine for Christmas or birthdays—maybe even preferred. Gifts I need and gifts I want have sort of merged. To get to this point, the gifts I need were something of an “acquired taste.”
A similar phenomenon can happen in our Christian life of listening to God’s Word. We would like to hear something special, something I haven’t heard before, especially at holidays and special occasions. Give me a message with some fun in it, something I can take out of the box and play with on Monday morning. A lady once told me she stopped attending church because, “I’ve had enough theology.” She meant that she had heard enough about what God is like and what he has done for us. “Give me something new to play with! Tell me what to do!”
Like the gifts we need, the gospel is an acquired taste. But without it my soul, my faith cannot live. God’s rules and principles for living my life are true and important, too, but they don’t keep my faith alive like the gospel. Jesus so loves you and me that he gave up his own life to rescue us from sin. Jesus so conquered sin and death that he rose to life to assure us of life that never ends. Jesus so lives and rules over the universe that all we know or experience is working to support and strengthen our faith and see us safely home to heaven. This is the message that feed our trust in God and keeps it alive.
The gift of God is eternal life with him, not so much improved behavior or experiences in the short term. Open his gift often, and see a taste for it grow in your heart.