Tom Elliff
Oklahoma City, OK

After pastoring for forty-two years, Tom Elliff served the International Mission Board, first as Senior Vice President for Spiritual Nurture and Church Relations from 2005-2009, then as President from 2011-2014. Tom served pastorates in Arkansas, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma and as an IMB missionary in Zimbabwe. Tom also served as president of the SBC Pastor's Conference and two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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Looking for that Perfect Gift?

By on December 1, 2014

Once again, merchants hopped right over over my favorite holiday of the year (Thanksgiving) and began urging us to prepare for Christmas by exercising what little “buying power” we have left. Before you rush out to the Mall, order by catalog, or invest on the internet, it might be good to consider the Biblical example of a perfect gift.
Don’t we all aspire to give the perfect gift to those we love? Of course, we sometimes miss the mark. I read about a husband who asked his wife to give him some hints about what she wanted for Christmas. Having just seen a new sports car in a showroom window, she said, “I’d like something that’s black, covered with chrome, and goes from zero to 180 in under six seconds. Imagine her dismay on Christmas day when she opened a box containing a bathroom scale. Imagine his, two days later, when he finally could just barely open his black eyes! Not the perfect gift!
But here’s a picture of the perfect gift: After coming into the house, they (the Magi) saw the child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshipped Him. Then opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2: 11).
The perfect gift is, most of all, a gift from the “heart.” Upon seeing the Messiah, the wise men “dropped to the ground,” in unfeigned worship. This was a heart response to the Savior. Don’t we all look first for the heart behind a gift? Each of us can probably recall O. Henry’s classic short story, The Gift of the Magi, and its reminder that giving is primarily a heart issue.
The perfect gift is also a gift from the “hand.” They presented, literally “released” their gifts to the Savior. No holding back and no reservation here! Their gifts were conveyed “once for all.” Our word “prosper” comes from the word used here; no lingering grasp but only a joyful release. There’s not much joy in receiving something that doesn’t actually become yours. In fact, you have not received it at all!
Lastly, the perfect gift is a gift from the “head.” The gold, frankincense and myrrh were evidences of the wise men’s understanding of the role Christ would play in this world: His divine nature, His role as our priestly intercessor, and the atonement for our sins by His death. These were thoughtful gifts. They had thoroughly considered what they would present. No bathroom scales here! And no stopping by the store on the way to the party!
Our Lord is God’s perfect gift to us and He is worthy of the absolute surrender of ourselves to Him. But the Wise Men’s gifts, placed before the young child now living with His parents in a borrowed house in Bethlehem, remind us of the nature of a perfect gift. I’m hoping to give a few of those this year. What about you?

Rejoice evermore!

Tom Elliff
2 Tim 1: 12