When there's no way you can do your Christmas shopping

Mostly at Christmas we give gifts that are about equal value. You don’t want to be the one who gets (or gives) the dodgy hand cream if everyone else is getting expensive hampers or golf sets, right?

And that’s how it plays in life too. We like to be even. To not owe anyone too much. To feel we’ve earned the same number of points as the people we’re dealing with.

Sometimes, though, we get a gift we can’t ever repay.

I’ve been watching the West Wing all year. (Yes, this is related. Keep reading.) In the seventh and final season, the staff of the White House are preparing for what’s coming next and there are lot of job offers on the table. Chief of Staff CJ takes a meeting with the local billionaire who says, “You’re a person who gets things done. Name something in the world that you’d like to fix. I’ll give you $10 billion to do it.”

Understandably, she was excited to get on board. That’s a gift to the world that no one can ever repay.

It sounds good, right? 

But actually, $10 billion isn’t that much for that kind of guy. In the real world, the equivalent of that billionaire would probably be Bill Gates, who’s apparently worth $73 billion or thereabouts. He’s so rich that he could spent $6 million a day for the rest of his life and never run out of money.

Imagine if Bill Gates said, “I’d like to fix the world. I’m prepared to give all my money to do it. But not only that. I’d also like to give all my energy, my resources, my skills, my contacts, my time and my ingenuity to doing it. I’ll give myself to the job and I’ll die doing it.”

That would be a gift no one could ever repay. Even if the world didn’t get ‘fixed’ a lot of good would happen. But I probably shouldn’t even think about it. It’s kind of ridiculous to even contemplate, seeing as such generosity is never going to happen, right?

Well, no. 

Actually, that sort of unrepayable gift is what Christmas is all about. It's about a present that you can't ever match, no matter how early you start your Christmas shopping or how much you shell out. 

It’s about God giving himself (Jesus) to fix our world, but he’s not just fixing roads and infrastructure. He’s getting to the root of the problem – our hearts. It’s about him saying, “Here’s all of me. I want to give you a gift you can never give yourselves. Here’s real joy. Here’s genuine peace. Here’s absolute forgiveness through Jesus. You can have it. For free.”

What do people do with unrepayable gifts? Well, we can’t do anything to deserve it or pay it back, so the best thing is just to get on board, enjoy it, get to know the person who gave it to you, use it and tell other people about it.

Basically, turn up.

I recently fell in love with Pentatonix, an a capella singing group whose Little Drummer Boy has gone viral this Christmas. (Yes, go ahead and press play, if you haven't already. )

Not only do I adore their voices, but I love the words of this carol, especially where it says, “I have no gift to bring, to lay before the king.” The kid in the carol can’t repay the unrepayable gift of Jesus, but he turns up and is part of it anyway, playing his drum.

Happy Christmas, the time of year we celebrate receiving the unrepayable gift. I hope you’ll play your drum with me this year. 


This was the talk I gave at our church gingerbread house making even this year. We made some pretty spectacular houses and Pentatonix (played on the big screen) got some impressive applause.

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