How many gifts are still under your tree, waiting to be opened until you meet the requirements of the giver? Did anyone tell you that you had to do something for them before you were allowed to open their gift?
It might sound absurd to talk about gifts like this or think that we have to “qualify” for a “gift” before we can actually open it. Usually when we receive a gift, we don’t have to “earn” it before we are allowed to open it. We trust that the giver of the gift loves us and has given us their gift freely and unconditionally. In fact, if you look up the word “gift” in a dictionary you will find it defined as:
“Something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation.”
But, when Mormons speak of spiritual matters, the word “gift” takes on a whole different meaning. In fact, it has been re-defined! There are really only two unconditional “gifts” in Mormonism and those are the gifts of immortality (bodily resurrection) and our free agency. All other “gifts” are “conditional”.
One simple example can be found in True to the Faith, page 52. In referencing Eternal life, it states:
“Like immortality, this gift is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. However, it requires our ‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.’ (Articles of Faith 1:3)”
The “condition” attached to this “gift” from Heavenly Father is obedience. You can do a simple search at lds.org–in the gospel library. Type in the words “>conditional AND gift”. You will discover that even God’s love, mercy and grace are all “gifts” conditioned upon your worthiness.
But the truth is that your Savior has many unconditional gifts waiting for you! One is the gift of eternal life! Not only does He offer it to you unconditionally but it is also given voluntarily. This gift was made personally–just for you, and it wasn’t an easy gift for Jesus to make. He lovingly spent thirty three years working on this gift. Day after day, despite many temptations by Satan, Jesus perfectly obeyed God’s laws—for you. He did this so that He could be your substitute for righteousness. Through faith, your are credited with all of His perfect works–so that you could meet God’s demands for righteousness. His suffering on the night of His death was tremendous. It must have been excruciating to take upon Himself the sins of the entire world, and then to be cursed and abandoned by His Heavenly Father. His shed blood covered over every sin you will ever commit. He willingly lived and died to give you the gift of eternal life.
Now, imagine that Jesus comes to you and personally offers His gift to you—freely and unconditionally. But, instead of graciously and excitedly thanking Him for the gift He worked so hard to make for you–you tell Him you can improve on His gift by adding your own works to it. Or, maybe you tell Him you can’t accept His gift because you believe you first have to qualify for it.
Imagine His disappointment when you reject His loving gift–that He worked on and made especially for you. Please, don’t do this to my Savior Jesus! Don’t reject the gift of eternal life He worked so hard to give you! Don’t leave His precious gift unopened for another minute! Through His perfect works He has already qualified you to live eternally with Heavenly Father:
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Believe (have faith) that Jesus has already gained this gift for you and you will receive it! Then, spend the remainder of your life freely serving your Heavenly Father “Freely” because doing so is your voluntary and unconditional gift of love to Him!