Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Perfect Gift (II Corinthians 9:15)

Who wrote “Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift”? Paul (II Corinthians 9:15)

While exhorting the Corinthians to fulfill their promise to prepare an offering (II Corinthians 9:5), Paul reminded them that all our giving is a poor imitation of God’s generosity (II Corinthians 9:10-15). At the conclusion of his discourse, Paul adds the doxology “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift (II Corinthians 9:15 NASB)!” Paul gets wrapped up in the gift and cannot help but to praise God.

When Paul writes of the indescribable gift, he uses a word not only not found elsewhere in the New Testament but also absent from any extant Greek writing before his time. Apparently, Paul invented a word for the occasion and even when he created a word to describe God’s gift the word meant indescribable. The word he concocted, anekdiegetos, is a negative version of ekdiegeomai which means “to declare, relate”. The word means “it cannot be declared”. Paul is not claiming that one should not describe the gift only that we cannot adequately do so. Anekdiegtos has been translated as “indescribable” (HCSB, NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV), “inexpressible” (CEV, RSV), “unspeakable” (ASV, KJV), and “too wonderful for words” (CEV, NLT). The Message paraphrases “no language can praise it enough”. God’s gift is beyond words and left the verbose apostle speechless.

Have you ever been rendered speechless by someone’s gift? What is the best gift anyone ever got you? (Anything better than a Lexus or even a Big Wheel?) What is God’s inexpressible gift?

Whether Paul speaks directly of the gift of Christ or salvation is disputed. This argument is superfluous as the two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are so linked that they cannot be separated. For the purposes of this post, God’s greatest gift is the gift of his own son to save the world (John 3:16).

It has all the earmarks of a great gift. It is suitable for all occasions. It is appropriate for people of any age, gender or nationality. It is practical yet extravagant. It is thoughtful and was given in love. It required sacrifice on the part of the giver. It had an element of surprise. It will hopefully become a conversation piece and be part of celebrations in the recipient’s life forever. It gave the giver as much joy as the recipient (Luke 15:10). It is a gift the world would not have thought to give itself and could not give itself. It was grace.

Most gifts, no matter how magnificently received at the time, become underappreciated. Do we ever lose sight of the inexpressibleness of God’s gift? Do we, like Paul, still break into praise when considering it? If you had to attach an adjective to characterize God’s gift, what would it be? What will you do or have you done in response to this gift?

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