It is the Christmas season and all around the world beautiful gifts are prepared and given out. What a wonderful time of year!
It's also a busy season as those gifts take time to prepare, purchase, or create. I'd like to take a few moments of your time to share about some specific gifts we receive from our Father in Heaven.
Our Father in Heaven sent His Son to earth to suffer and die so that we might have eternal life. The Atonement of Jesus Christ began in the Garden of Gethsemane as our Savior took upon himself the sins, pain, suffering, trials, and tribulation of every soul that would ever live. It continued through his scourging and crucifixion, and culminated in His resurrection.
It is through this supernal act that we can receive forgiveness of our sins, seek relief from our greatest trials, and receive daily strength and support. It is a gift that constantly and continuously gives throughout each day.
Perhaps it is described best in this Book of Mormon passage from the book of Alma, chapter 7, verses 10-12:
10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
The gift of forgiveness comes to us in two ways. First, we can be forgiven of the mistakes we make or the wrongs we perpetuate on others, if we sincerely repent. Because Christ suffered the pain and punishment for our sins, he offers us relief if we seek to follow his path and change.
Forgiveness is also a gift we can give others - we can forgive the wrongs they do to us. Often times to do so requires great strength, even greater than we can find in ourselves. The gift of forgiving can come to all of us through prayer to our Father in Heaven. He can give us the strength to forgive others.
The ultimate goal and purpose of this life is to return and live with our Father in Heaven in never ending joy after this life. This gift is offered to all those who will seek it. By doing all we can to follow the path our Savior left for us, we can be strengthened and enabled through His atonement to ultimately obtain eternal life.
A revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith speaks of eternal life in this way:
...If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.
The Book of Romans gives similar instruction:
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Our Father in Heaven loves us. His love is demonstrated in thousands of ways every day. His sweetest gifts are offered to his children. How grateful we should be in this Christmas season for His matchless gifts.
Below is a video of the president of the church, President Russell M. Nelson, speaking about the gifts we've received from our Savior Jesus Christ.