The Gifts from God for the Holidays – Merry Christmas!

16th-century_unknown_painters_-_Parable_of_the_Unfaithful_Servant_-_WGA23794Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’ ‘Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.’ ‘At this the servant fell on his knees before him. “Be patient with me,” he begged, “and I will pay back everything.” The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. ‘But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. “Pay back what you owe me!” he demanded.’ ‘His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.” ‘But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.’ ‘Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.’ ‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’ – Matthew 18:21-35

In this parable, we see three gifts God gives all of us. Like all good followers, we too are capable of giving the same three gifts. Traditionally, we may be thinking of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. However in the above parable, God is the king who is giving life gifts to those to whom He rules over. The three gifts we see are Mercy, Justice, and Forgiveness.

NativityFor some, the holidays can be a depressing time. For others, it can be fake. Still others may see no significance what so ever in the giving and receiving of gifts purchased by others to include family. Finally, we have those who see the holidays not as pagan rituals redefined or claimed by Christians but as actual methods of reaching out to the lost, needy, and fatherless. Regardless of how we may feel about the season, let us all reflect upon the three gifts God gives as demonstrated by the parable.

  1. MERCY – God demonstrates His mercy towards all of us by expunging the debt of sin we have each accumulated from the time we were conceived. He alone made the cancellation of our debt possible by sending His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. As God’s creation, when we come to Him and beg for MERCY, He gives it to us.
  2. JUSTICE – God demonstrates His Justice towards all of us by demanding obedience through reciprocation of what has been done for us. The best way to understand this point is to read Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” If He did it for you, He expects you to do it for others!” God is Just, for if you do not then He will not acknowledge you. His JUSTICE is perhaps the hardest gift of the three to understand in modern American society. It is as if we want Mercy and Forgiveness but without Justice especially if we have been treated unjustly. I believe our selfishness renders us blind to the true meaning of God’s Justice. For some reason, the very idea that god would enforce His own standards have become an issue of offense. If we ask God for JUSTICE He will give it us. However, He will expect it from us as well.
  3. FORGIVENESS – In verses 21-22 above, Peter asks a great question. Forgiving others seven times was a Jewish practice and was ages old even by the time of Jesus. Sometimes, when we read these verse, we can get lost in the response of Jesus. Seventy-times seven (some translations), seventy seven times (other translations) only multiply the problem. We miss the point when we multiply. It is not the multiple of seven that is to be the focus but the number seven itself. The number seven means “Completion” and “Perfection”. So what Jesus was saying is, the most complete and perfect thing you and I can do is forgive. Why else would he voice Matthew 5:48, at the end of his teaching on “Love your enemies”? “Be you perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Perfection as we know it in Western society is impossible, but Perfection as in practicing the art and science of being a “7 Christian” year round is anything but impossible. In fact, it will change not only our lives but the lives of everyone around us. What makes God PERFECT is the fact that He forgives. What makes us FORGIVEN is the fact that we have sought His, ask of others, and give FORGIVENESS as if it is going out of style tomorrow.

As we participate in the holiday season in a myriad of unique ways, let us practice being a “7 Christian” year round. Start this season by giving the best three gifts of all: MERCY, JUSTICE, and FORGIVENESS. In so doing, you and I will be more PERFECT and COMPLETE than we could ever imagine and our lives as well as the lives of those around us will change too.

“Be you PERFECT!”

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.