The greatest gift that has ever been given is salvation through Jesus Christ. Paul wrote of this gift in his letter to the Romans. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). In his letter to the Ephesians Paul stated, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). The Hebrews letter calls it "the heavenly gift" (Hebrews 6:4).
Jesus also referred to salvation for mankind as "the gift of God" (John 4:10). This gift has personal meaning for our Lord. In giving the gift of salvation God had to give His Son as the perfect sacrifice for the guilt of man's sins. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). God's "gift" for man required giving the life of His Son on the cross. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
Paul went into detail emphasizing the magnitude of God's "gift" of salvation by contrasting it with the condemnation faced by man because of his sin (Romans 5:14-21). When man sinned he brought into his reality the consequence of sin. The ultimate consequence, of course, is death (Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23).
But connected with that is the further consequence that sinning makes man a sinner. As a sinner he is guilty with no way to remove from himself the guilt of his own sin. That's where God, in His love and grace, stepped in and sent His perfect Son to the cross. In giving the life of Jesus, God satisfied the terms of the debt for man's sin (Hebrews 9:28). Man, as a guilty sinner, could not satisfy those terms himself. God did it for him.
It's incredible to contemplate. God offers the gift of salvation. But, in order to be able to offer that gift God first had to give the life of His Son. Without this greatest of all gifts mankind would be hopelessly lost in the condemnation of sin. How strange that so many choose to continue in sin and thus remain condemned. How careless, how foolish! But it's also disrespectful to God and the unbelievable sacrifice that He made in giving the life of His Son. How terrible it will be to face judgment having rejected the greatest gift ever given.
Gary L. Hutchens