Giving, whether it is cards or presents, is a huge part of the Christmas season. But gifts, no matter how heartfelt, should not take over the real reason for the season: Jesus’ birth which meant that all of humanity could be redeemed.
One important gift-giving event that happened in the Christmas story was when some Magi came to visit Jesus. They were miraculously led to where Mary and Joseph lived by a star in the East (Matt 2:2-9).
‘After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.’ Matthew 2:9-11
When they arrived they didn’t give any random thing, they offered valuable gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. Each gift had a special meaning: Jesus’ kingship (gold); Jesus’ worthiness of honour and praise (incense), and His mission on earth; and as a king destined to die (myrrh). Each of these gifts would have come at a cost to these travelling pilgrims. But they were willing to give up what was valuable to them for the cause of the Messiah.
Now God definitely is not telling us all to go to Israel as an act of service, neither is He telling us to give what we don’t have. He only asks us firstly, to offer ourselves and to be willing to listen to His correction and guidance. But then afterwards, we should be willing to give up whatever God asks. As Paul says when he writes to the Philippians, ‘Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.’ (Philippians 3:8)
As I am still a student, sometimes it seems that there is not that much I can give or do. But everyone has something to give – just like the poor widow in Mark 12 who gave everything she had. As I said before, God is not telling us to give what we don’t have or what we need. But this week maybe we can offer our time to show someone the love that Christ also showed us. Or send someone a note letting them know that God sees them. Even simply praying for those around us is an easy way to serve God. So let’s serve God faithfully with our best whilst waiting for the promise.