Sweaters. Shirts. Ties. Robes. Socks and slippers. These steady standbys rank among the most predictable gifts people give or receive at Christmas. We have all lived the scene: a scribbled list of gifts for friends and family; merging with the overcrowded mall masses to sort through sales racks; standing in line for way too long; stuffing the gifts into the car trunk; and, finally—being way too tired to enjoy it, but facing the immediacy of Christmas morning—sinking onto the floor at home to wrap each gift in a square of gold or red foil, finishing off the package with a pre-made bow or the scrape of the scissors to curl the ribbon.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if giving forgiveness and grace were as intentionally planned or neatly packaged? While such gifts could be considered “out of the box,” they are perhaps the most important ones we can give this Christmas.

From the time of His birth, Scripture describes Christ as being full of grace and truth (Luke 2:40; John 1:14). We who follow Him have a responsibility to give what He first gave us—grace. Consider for a moment the saying, “You cannot give what you have not received.” Through Christ’s incarnation, sacrificial death, and resurrection we have received a wholly undeserved gift: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

Because God has given this gift to us, He calls us “to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Pet. 4:10). That is true of our spiritual gifts and it should be true of our spiritual graces. We must give grace away … and freely.

Giving the gift of grace may seem impossible—especially to those who have wounded us the most. But just as it was impossible to receive God’s grace without His decision to give it, we can trust that He will enable us to do what we must in the power only He can give. We can forgive because we have been forgiven.

In this issue of Kindred Spirit we invite you to contemplate this gift of grace. Take an imaginary journey with the Magi, who came to worship the ultimate Magistrate born in a manager; discover what gift God has wanted from the time of Genesis; and perhaps add a few names to the shopping list as you read about our brothers and sisters who are serving Christ in Africa.

This Christmas I encourage you to look for gifts that are out of the box.