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Save the Paper

December 25, 2017

“[Jesus] made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2:7

Above the joyful sounds of Christmas morning, as children open their presents in attack mode, you can usually hear someone older and wiser saying, “Don’t rip the paper. Save it for next year!” It’s a Christmas thing as deeply embedded in Christmas tradition as jingle bells and holly. The point is that valuable wrapping paper is worth keeping.

Jesus, God’s ultimate gift, came in wrapping paper that is worth keeping. In Jesus’ case, it’s the wrapping that makes the gift so valuable.

When God decided to come to earth as a gift to all mankind, He could have wrapped the gift in a far more spectacular way than He did. Imagine how mind-boggling it would have been for Him to light up the sky with His presence in a celestial show of brilliant power and might. But instead, He chose to come to our planet by wrapping Himself in the likeness of common folk like you and me. As our text says, He chose to take on the form of human likeness—and that of a servant to boot!

So why is this wrapping so important? It shows that He understands what it’s like to be human. He is no stranger to your struggles. He knows your joys and sorrows. Because He has experienced every aspect of being human, he has a clue about you and your needs. When we come to Him, He never says, “I don’t get it,” because He does get it. He’s been there before! As the writer of Hebrews tells us: “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16).

As a boy, I would snoop under the Christmas tree ahead of time. I could usually spot gifts for me by the designs on the paper. Those with dolls and lace were certainly for my sisters. But I knew that the ones wrapped in trains and planes most likely were for me!

One glance at the wrapping on God’s gift of Jesus reveals that this gift was meant for you. The scars in His hands and feet reflect His commitment to serve you and save you—all the way to the cross. As Paul tells us in Philippians 2:7-8, Jesus “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

As I think about the wrapping on Jesus, I’m reminded that all of us are wrapped in some kind of paper. We spend most of our lives wrapping and rewrapping ourselves in clothes, cars, houses, positions, social networks, and other symbols we think will enhance our appearance.

If the wrapping we choose is made only of these earthbound things, we miss something vital about the meaning of Christmas. If, as Paul instructed, I am to have the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5), it means that I too must wrap myself in the spirit of servanthood. Those of us who have received God’s gift are called to recycle His wrapping paper into our own lives by giving ourselves as a gift to others just as He gave Himself as a gift to us.

I guess “save the paper!” is pretty good advice after all.

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • Write down some of the ways that you have benefited from the servanthood of Christ.
  • Do you know anyone who is “wrapped” in servanthood like Christ? How has their example influenced you?
  • When it comes to Jesus, there is something terribly wrong with taking the gift and throwing the wrapping away. If you have received the gift of Jesus, in what ways can you display the “wrapping” of His servanthood to others today?