The Greatest of Gifts

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“The Greatest of Gifts,” New Era, Dec. 1971, 5

The Message:

The Greatest of Gifts

Young adults are on the true threshold of life.

They have outgrown their childhood, survived the rigors of adolescence, and now catch a glimpse of their great potential as they move into early maturity.

For them to see even a short way into the future (and everyone can) is almost breathtaking.

Half the world population is under twenty-eight years of age. Many leaders in government, education, and industry are still in their thirties.

Young adults are assuming increased responsibility and now influence the shape of things to come to a remarkable degree. What kind of world will they build?

Being human, they will make mistakes like the generations before them, for who can be perfect in this life? It is true that we today enjoy a technology never before known, and that many of us are far better educated than our forefathers. But are we any wiser? Isn’t wisdom the basis of real progress? Whence comes wisdom?

Has today’s brilliance produced a greater talent than Shakespeare? Can we find a modern man with greater wisdom than Solomon? Whose writings today can compare with those of Isaiah or Paul?

Technology cannot produce a Merchant of Venice nor can any modern school of thought write a book like the Bible. So the past had its greatness too, and we still feed upon it.

Greatness of some kind has characterized every age. It has always sprung from a common source, and that source is God.

Socrates acknowledged him. Shakespeare’s most sublime expressions reflect the teachings of scripture. Columbus prayed. Washington, Lincoln, and Churchill sought guidance in the Bible. Darwin was devout, and Von Braun, today’s space genius, worships the divine.

Then can young adults do less? If their world is to be secure, it must rest upon the only sure foundation men have ever known—reliance upon the Almighty.

Throughout the ages efforts have been made to live without God. Both nations and individuals have tried it and with similar results.

Inevitably, rejection of God means rejection of his way of life. His rules always lead upward with one objective: to help us to become like him.

Turning from him, we find ourselves drifting in a new direction, leading away from the up and, inevitably, toward the down.

Can anyone afford it? Hosts have tried it and all have paid its price. It is the costly—the painful—way to live, even though it may seem glamorous and attractive at first.

To paraphrase Lowell, “Sin has its price for what sin gives us,” and it is greater than any of us can afford. In the wake of sin comes every form of heartbreak, and while its victims have suffered, as Robert W. Service says, “Deep in his hell sang the devil, and this was the strain of his song: the ancient outworn puritanic tradition of right and wrong.”

In a few weeks we shall celebrate Christmas. What can we do better at that joyous season than to take a leaf from the experience of the past and fully acknowledge God?

We can build for our own future, but it is true that “except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” (Ps. 127:1.)

It is verily true that each one will build in his own way. (Paul may plant and Apollos may water.) But we can never truly build if we attempt to labor alone.

There is a Providence over all, controlling the affairs of men. As Shakespeare said, “There is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.” It is he who giveth and he who taketh away.

For Christmas let us give ourselves the greatest of gifts—a Christlike life. Jesus is our Savior, temporally as well as spiritually. He “giveth the increase.”

The world may reject him, even scorn him, but he is greater than the world.

Philosophers may ridicule, but the wisdom of men shall perish. The will and wisdom of God alone has enduring significance.

When Peter taught that there is salvation in none but Christ, he spoke with greater significance than most of us realize.

As the Creator, Jesus controls the universe. He can stay the storms; he can open the windows of heaven and pour out such blessings that we can hardly contain them, if we will but serve him. His is the up way. His is the abundant life. His is the path to peace and prosperity. Have we the wisdom to see and accept it?

This Christmas let us recognize him for what he is and humbly take his name upon us and be saved, physically, economically, and spiritually.