“And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Acts 20:35 NLT
Giving the right gift is a very personal thing. Studying the recipient for needs and desires, followed by selecting or handmaking the gift, demonstrates your love and dedication to their happiness and satisfaction. There is nothing like seeing a person’s face lighting up, overflowing with gratitude, thankfulness, and joy.
On the other hand, giving the wrong gift, well, it provides a different kind of feeling. Take for instance Ralphie in The Christmas Story. The well-meaning aunt, obviously an expert seamstress, stuck her needle in Ralphie’s Christmas balloon. Magicianlike, she turned his excitement into embarrassment. Yes, she demonstrated love, and invested her time, two important elements in gift giving, but who makes pink bunny pajamas, ears included, for a boy Ralphie’s age? Especially when Ralphie has his heart set on a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas.
Why do we give gifts to one another? Is it respect, love, honor, maybe, obligation? Perhaps we see a need and are motivated to act. Hopefully our hands are open and pressing out, offering what we have to others. We must be careful in weaker economic times to not be fearful, or afraid, to give. Clutching to our possessions can prevent us from receiving blessings, let alone the fact that everything we have is a gift from God.
While our reasoning for gift giving may vary from person to person, God’s gift giving is precise and consistent.
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10
We may scurry around looking for last minute gifts, wondering whether family or friends will be happy with the gift, but God knows exactly what we need to be the best in our service to Him and each other. Consider these scriptures.
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 1 Corinthians 7-11 ESV
For most of us the gift we are given takes time for it to be a perfect fit. Like an outfit for a child, sometimes we need to grow in our relationship with God for His fullness to be realized in us. This brings us to the most important question, “What do we give God this Christmas?”
Thank goodness we have some great suggestions in the Word of God. Matthew 2:1-12 has some sweet gift ideas to please Him.
In verse 2 we read, ..”Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” These three wise men were speaking with Herod about Jesus being born. Granted, they may have visited with Herod, but it does not appear they were worshipping Herod, they were saving their worship for Jesus. We must be mindful of the kings in our lives, those things taking priority, and what or who are we worshipping?
Then in verse 9 we continue, “After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
Obviously, God had been speaking to the Magi visiting Jesus because they could not have chosen better gifts for the Lord. Let’s review the gifts. First, let’s consider the sacrifice of these wise men. They travelled a great distance to see Jesus, exerted many resources and dedicated a great deal of time. Their incredible legacy continues to impact lives as those who went in search of the future Savior of the world.
Throughout the Old Testament, gold is recognized as the gift “fit for a King.” Not only did gold provide the honor Jesus was worthy to receive, but it was also practical, providing resources for expenses of the family.
Frankincense is used during worship and is specifically mentioned in Exodus 20:34. Jesus lived the perfect life, and His holiness made Him the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sin. Many times, in the Old Testament, God shows his displeasure to incense being offered to other gods. He is the One True God.
While myrrh can be used as medicine, in Biblical times it was often used for embalming. In Jesus’ case, to be given myrrh as a baby emphasizes that His purpose for coming to live like us was to be the sacrifice for our sins.
As we celebrate this Christmas season, let us remember and give Him a life fit for our Savior.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8 ESV
Jesus healed my yesterday, sustains my here and now, and designed my heavenly home! Thank you for the gift of eternal life!