For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Titus 2:11-14 (NIV84)
Every year as Christmas Day approached, our family tree was always a spectacular sight near our staircase. It was adorned with colorful lights and ornaments collected through the years, either homemade keepsakes, gifts from friends, or mementos. My dad always liked to put tinsel on the tree, and he did so with painstaking care, just three strands on each branch. It always looked beautiful when it was decorated, but as it stood it just wasn’t complete. Because underneath the tree was empty. The gifts weren’t there yet.
Even though it stayed that way until my brother and I went to bed after the Christmas Eve service, we never went to bed worried, because every year the same thing happened. When we woke up, our parents had put the wrapped presents under the tree so that we could give each other gifts.
In Titus, Paul says that God’s grace teaches us to live self-controlled lives. Perhaps I needed that when I was younger and was anxious to see what was beneath the wrapping. We would wait. We would guess. We would hope it was what we wanted. But in the end, what was inside didn’t really matter. It was the anticipation, the excitement, the hope of what was contained inside that made it so special.
Now as Christians, we wait again. Only the gift is so much greater. It’s indescribable. We wait for a hope, a hope that is blessed because of who gives us that hope and what it is founded on. That hope, which is yours, comes to you from our great God and Savior, who has redeemed you and saved you from all wickedness through his death on the cross.
So as you wait, live in that hope. I never went to bed on Christmas Eve worried about whether there would be presents there, because they were there every year. In the same way, your hope in God’s appearance is certain because Jesus already came. He appeared on this earth to visibly show you his grace and the unending love he has for you. He will come again in glory. And when he appears again, it will be to take the people that are his very own to be with him forever.
Until that day comes, live in that eager anticipation of the appearing of God’s indescribable gift. Say no to ungodliness. Live in self-control. Be as eager to do what is good as you are eager to see the appearing of God’s Son with your very own eyes. And live in hope. Live in the hope that your glorious Savior is your gift—wrapped and waiting. And when you see his glory, that gift will be indescribable.
Prayer：Dear Father in heaven, we praise and thank you for giving us the gracious gift of your Son, who has redeemed us from all wickedness. As we live in anticipation of his reappearing, we confess that we often grow anxious in our waiting. Give us the strength to say no to sin and ungodliness and to be eager to do what is good. Help keep our eyes on that indescribable gift of our sure salvation, won for us in Jesus’ blood. Amen.