Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” [Acts 2:38-39 (NLT)]
From the toy we found in the cereal box as kids to the televisions and cruises once offered by a car dealership north of here, everyone loves a bonus gift! When we were newly-weds, my husband and I collected glassware the gas station offered as a bonus for a fill-up. Those green glasses graced our table for many years as did the stainless-steel flatware we purchased with the S&H green stamps we’d gotten as a bonus from the grocery! I always wait until my favorite cosmetic brand offers a free bonus gift with a minimum purchase before restocking my moisturizer and DSW just offered a bonus tote bag with a minimum purchase. Restaurants like Outback Steakhouse frequently offer a $10 bonus card with the purchase of a $50 gift card. Even banks offer bonuses and Citibank recently offered up to $1,500 to customers opening a new checking account (to get that much, however, you had to maintain a $200,000 balance)!
I know of a bonus gift that is far better than glassware, a tote, or $1,500. No minimum purchase is required and we don’t have to spend money, go the mall, or change banks to get it. Although many bonus offers are exclusive for special customers, like those who’ve signed up for emails or spent a certain amount of money, this bonus offer is available to any who desire it. Unlike those restaurant bonus gift cards, there’s no expiration date on the benefits and there’s no fine print as there is for Citibank’s offer.
Since day one, mankind’s history hasn’t been good. It’s ranged from disobedience to deception, murder to theft, rebellion to jealousy, pride to cruelty, anger to revenge, and idolatry to avarice. Jesus was fully God but He also was fully human. Having encountered temptation, He knew the allure of sin and how tough it is to live in this fallen world. He had firsthand knowledge of disappointment, opposition, pain, loss, and betrayal and knew the dangers, pitfalls, and suffering of human life. Knowing how flawed we all are, Jesus didn’t want to leave us alone without a helper and so He gave us a bonus gift—the Holy Spirit.
The cereal toys of childhood were lost, the gas station glasses broke, S&H green stamps are no longer offered, and the kids took the stainless to college. Although the bonus lipstick and mascara are gone and the restaurant bonus gift cards are no longer valid, the life-changing Holy Spirit is forever! Like most bonus offers, however, Jesus’ offer comes at a cost but He is the One who paid the purchase price when he suffered and died on the cross.
We’ll often see an asterisk by the offered bonus and, if we bother to read the fine print, we’ll find there is a limited supply of gifts available. The Holy Spirit, however, is unlimited—there’s enough of Him to go around. Moreover, while most bonus offers have an expiration date, Jesus’ offer doesn’t. Instead, we are the ones with the expiration date which means we have a limited but unknown time in which we can claim His offer! The Holy Spirit is one bonus offer none of us should miss. Will you take Him up on it?
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.
[Augustine of Hippo]