Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
“Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” All things are gift from the Lord. What He gives is a gift. What He doesn’t give is also a gift. In His giving and in His not giving the Lord is giving gifts. He’s gifting everything. He knows “how to give good gifts to His [baptized] children.” Whether He gives or withholds—all is received in the way of gift by His baptized children. He’s gifted to you; He’s gifted to your neighbor—also you to them and them to you. Everything, everyone is a gift from the Lord. The Lord has created us to live begiftedly—as, from, and through His gifts. This is the Seventh Commandment—gifts from Him to your neighbor through you. All things are gift from the Lord. Of course, they are! As James says, “Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.”
Now, what sort of gifts are we talking about? Well, First Article gifts: “clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, land, animals, and all I have.” It’s what we pray for in the Fourth Petition, “Give us this day our daily bread,” which is “everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body.” Or, as the Seventh Commandment puts it: “money”, “possessions”, and “income.” All these things are good gifts that come down from your heavenly Father, “maker of heaven and earth.”
Our first sin is to not live begiftedly, and so we reject the Giver. We’d rather be taker and earner rather than only given to. This was Eve’s and Adam’s sin. The Lord gave the entire universe, the entire world, “every plant yielding seed, and every tree with seed in its fruit…for food.” He gave the Garden of Eden, and, of course, to “eat of every tree of the garden.” “And if that had been too little, [He] also would have given much more!” (2 Sam 12:8) He had given so much for eating, and He, of course, gave another tree, “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” That also was a gift, a not-eating gift.
To eat meant death. To eat of every other tree in entire the world meant life and peace. Eve and then Adam rejected the Giver, the gift, and the way the gifts were given. “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” The entire world and garden full of trees for eating wasn’t good enough. The Lord was obviously holding out on them. So they stole what was not given to them, and they ate. And in their eating, they doomed us all to a life of not living begiftedly—only of the Lord’s bountiful goodness.
Think of how we question that. How can a gift be a gift if its not to be used. If it’s not, then that’s a bad gift. All gifts must be used. And we all want the most gifts, and if I can’t have it, then that’s a problem. It’s not fair if someone has more than me, especially if I’ve worked so hard, and making sure that my neighbor’s income, crops, and possessions are better off than mine? Yeah, no way!
Stealing is so common place we don’t even recognize it as stealing. It’s just “the way of doing business.” High interest rates—especially on the poor. Using the powerful to lobby for your own benefit. Cut corners. Lower quality. Higher prices. Creative accounting. Maybe transforming some personal expenses into business ones. Gotta help the bottom line anyway possible. Gotta horde. Gotta have more: more stuff, better stuff, more and more money. No generosity. No charity.
To live begiftedly is to live free—not bound and nailed down to your stuff. It’s not even yours! It’s the Lord’s who created it, and gave it of His bountiful goodness. He gifted it to you. He gifted what your neighbor has, too.
We cling to all sorts of things that at the end of the world will be gone. Your house burning down, everything reduced to ashes, can you even stomach the thought? But if the Last Day were tomorrow, all that stuff wouldn’t even be ashes—won’t exist!
All the permanent things we want in the world (house, land, money) aren’t permanent. They’re gift. To cling to them is to cling to nothing, to trust the gift and not the Giver of the gift. To recognize them as gift and only a temporary gift, a gift to be used for the gift of those around you, is the gift of faith.
“Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” That Gift, that Seed or “Offspring” was given. Jesus was given, sent down from the Father. The “Offspring of the woman” given as the Offering for the world. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.” For our nailing shut our generosity, He was nailed to the cross. For our hordeing of dust and ashes, He went into the dust of death. For our clamping down on charity for those around us, He was sealed behind the stone tomb.
You have the heavenly riches. All good and perfect gifts are yours. You are baptized into Jesus Christ, your dearest Treasure. His death and life are yours—they really are. That’s baptism. He gives you of His bountiful goodness—His holy and precious body and blood, far more valuable than gold and silver. We live begiftedly—through those gifts. Without His Word and Gifts, we would have no true life. Oh, sure we could live for those around us, most likely using our generosity and charity as a score card—breaking the Seventh Commandment in another way.
All things are gift from the Lord. He’s baptized you. You’re a free, a baptized child of God. To be free, to receive “money and possessions” as a gift and not something that you’ve earned means that you are a gift to those around you. To gift them. Freely, fully, abundantly. Everyone around you is a “good and perfect gift…from the Father of lights.” We live begiftedly—we live as a gift for the benefit of the gift that is our neighbor. We live daily from the gifts that come from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’s bountiful goodness. We live through Jesus’ life-giving, forgiveness-giving Gifts. Without Him and without His Word and His Gifts we have nothing.
All things are gift from the Lord. Of course, they are! Everything, everyone is a gift from the Lord. The Lord has created us and created us anew in Baptism to live begiftedly. We treasure and cherish His most-valuable Gifts (His Word, His Baptism, His Supper, His Son). We share of His bountiful goodness—Forth Petition, First Article stuff given to, to be given out. We are gifts to others: generosity, charity. That’s free! Baptized child of the Father free! In Jesus, His Son, free! All gift from Him.
INI + AMEN.