“. . .but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
—Romans 6:23b (NIV)
December is here and that means CHRISTMAS is right around the corner. Without a doubt we know the true meaning of this time of year. And while we try to keep our focus on Jesus’ birthday, we still worry about the gifts on our list. That list can be short or it can be long but it’s the same question year after year. What will I buy?
The problem is not the gift, but who the gift is for. We spend our entire holiday season buying things to give to our family, our friends, our co-workers and even the gardener. Yet we rarely consider what we could give to Jesus. It is, after all, His birthday. What is a great gift for Him? The best answer comes from the example of those who were actually a part of the Christmas story.
- Mary gave Him her faith. Engaged to Joseph, she was only a teenager when God’s angel visited her and shared the plan for God’s Son. Even though she was rightfully afraid, she believed the angel and humbly rejoiced in God her Savior.
- Joseph gave Him his obedience. Hearing his fiancee was pregnant with someone else’s baby, Joseph must have been extremely disappointed and hurt. He apparently truly loved Mary as he planned to keep her secret and break the engagement quietly. Yet, when God shared the plan with him through an angel, he willingly took Mary as his wife and became Jesus’ step-father.
- Shepherds gave Him their worship. At the birth of Jesus, an angel appeared to those tending their flocks by night announcing that the Savior of the world had been born. They immediately went in search of the baby, finding Joseph, Mary and Jesus in Bethlehem. They left praising and glorifying God.
- Magi gave Him their belief. The Magi from the east saw a great star which they had heard would signify the birth of the King of the Jews. They immediately traveled in search of the baby. The trip was long and no doubt exhausting, but they finally found Him, offering treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The gifts given by each of these people were not based on cost, selfish desires or personal gain. Instead, each was a sincere response to an extraordinary offering from a loving God.
Of all our Christmas customs, it is not the external practices of gift-giving, attending a service, lighting candles or even singing happy birthday to Jesus that matter. What counts is the sincere example of a heartfelt response to the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no better gift in all the world than giving Him our faith, obedience, belief and worship.
“What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.”