It is just a few days until Christmas. Like many of you, the last minute rush of gift buying can rob the joy of giving. And, before we know it, we begin to focus on whether or not the person receiving the gift will be excited about our, gift or simply accept or even re-gift our gift.
Initially, what I suggest may seem self-focused and, therefore, contrary to the spirit of Christmas. It focuses on the giver rather than the receiver. But since our need to give is always greater than anyone’s need to receive, what if we took a moment and focused on how we give more than what we give or even to whom we give?
There are many wonderful biblical principles on giving. BUT, this Christmas, I am turning to the familiar story of the Wise Men to add meaning (value) to my gift giving. Whether buying a gift for a family member, friend, stranger, or giving a gift to a ministry to further the gospel, I am focusing on three aspects of giving as modeled by those who came to the first Christmas gathering…the wise men.
Make Every Gift a Gift to Jesus
Surely, the wise men did not literally hand over their gifts to the baby child Jesus. They likely gave their gifts to Joseph and Mary who, in turn, used them in practical ways to assist in the nurturing of the life and, therefore, the eventual ministry of Jesus. Surely, they gave knowing that many would be redeemed and rescued through the Lord’s work on earth.
Why is it when I give to a church or ministry, I think I am giving to Jesus but when I give a gift to a friend or family member, I do not think of it as a gift to the Lord’s work? What if, this year, no matter to whom we give, or what we give, we precede it with a simple prayer that somehow the Lord’s work would prosper…in them or through them to others? Even a little child can be used of the Lord as they share their toys with others. Let’s ask God to give us insight, as we wrap or package a gift, on how God might use it through the recipient to draw them closer to the Lord Himself or to impact others to further His kingdom.
Value the Gift of Time
Do you think the wise men would have drone-delivered or next-day “Amazon’d” their gifts if they could have? Some Bible scholars estimate that the journey to personally deliver their gifts may have taken three months. Whatever the value of the physical gifts delivered to Jesus, it must have paled in significance to the time invested to personally deliver the gifts to Jesus…face to face. And that does not even factor in the discomfort, danger, and other risks involved. If these three men really were kings (as the song implies), then even more amazing is the sacrifice of giving away such a vast amount of time…the most valuable commodity they possessed.
How about us? Let’s consider taking a few extra minutes to chat with those to whom we give gifts? Discover the battles they are facing and celebrate the wins of this past year. Pray for them. Demonstrate we really care by taking time to serve them. As we give a financial gift to a ministry, remember that our most important gift may be our prayers, our expertise, our friendship, or our counsel! Let’s take some time to give some time.
Add a Backstory to Your Gift
When presenting a gift to an individual or ministry, consider adding a backstory with your gift. I have made it a habit whenever a financial gift is given to Life Action and a note is accompanying it, to read the note first. Why? It’s not because I’m trying to be spiritual by devaluing the financial gift, but I genuinely want to know the story behind the gift! I then share those backstories, when appropriate, with my staff.
In our home, we generally tell each other why we love or appreciate each other before presenting a gift. But what if we took time to write a note with every gift expressing in detail how the Lord has used each family member in our lives. And even why we chose the gift we did? What was its significance?
The wise men had quite the backstory to share. It included how God aligned the stars, and how He protected and directed them on their journey. And imagine how they must have shared in detail why they chose the specific gifts they gave. Above all, they expressed the worth of Jesus for the present and future.
So, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle to discover, acquire, wrap, and deliver our gifts, let’s multiply the value of our gifts. Chances are, we will not only be fulfilled in giving, but the one we give to will be receiving something that can never be re-gifted…our love.
Like the shepherds, I bet the wise men returned to the East glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, and we will too if we give the…
“WISE MEN WAY.”