On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)
At Christmas we read bumper stickers stating, “Wise Men Still Seek Him.” We could add, wise men still bow down and worship Him and wise men still honor Him with their treasures. What a long and adventurous journey those wise men must have experienced. And what anticipation!
Some families like to place the Magi at one end of the house, moving the figures closer to the Nativity throughout December. When the wise men arrived to find Jesus, they presented Him with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. I have never been to a baby shower where those gifts were given, but these were probably customary to honor a king. They also may have symbolized His roles as King, Priest, and Savior.
Since Christmas now includes giving each other gifts, how can we keep gift-giving in perspective?
When my firstborn arrived early on December 21, I had only purchased one present for my husband. And he had done the same for me. Nineteen years later, I still remember what he gave me and what I gave him, though I barely remember any gifts from other Christmases.
More is not always better. Sometimes we overwhelm our young children with many gifts then find that all they really want to do is play with one big box a present came in. Is it any wonder at subsequent events they open gifts in a frenzy and then wail, “Is that all?”
Yes, less can be more and help keep the focus on the one true Gift. Consider these four gift-giving ideas:
A Gift for Jesus. Since Jesus is the single most important gift we’ve been given, consider how you and your family could bring Jesus a treasure this Christmas. Think of something He would like you to do during December. For example, encourage your kids to be kind to their siblings, help an elderly widow with shoveling snow, or write to a soldier. Pray together asking God what gift He would like. This could also include sponsoring a child with World Vision, or buying an animal for a poor family through Heifer International or Samaritan’s Purse. Write down the gifts you selected, wrap the cards or notes describing them, and place them under the tree to open on Christmas Day.
A Gift of Time. Make a coupon book with twelve coupons, one for each month. Include simple but meaningful ideas of things you will do together. For example: February – bowling, May – bike ride and picnic, August – back-to-school lunch and shopping.
Three gifts: Jesus received three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Give a gift to represent each of the Magi’s gifts. Gold = something wanted wrapped in gold holiday paper. Frankincense = something that deepens faith and helps worship the Lord, such as a music CD, devotional, art, or coupon for Christian retreat. (Look for a list of resources on Day Four when we focus on worshipping the Baby Jesus.) Myrrh =something for the body.
Four Gifts: As you select gifts for family members, consider something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. Can you imagine how shopping with these four goals in mind would simplify the task?
We’ve had no complaints at our house with simplified gift giving. This year the gift my daughters really want is time with cousins, aunts, and uncles. So this year’s purchase of plane tickets to see relatives is the gift they will treasure.
As stewards of all God has blessed us with, let’s consider the wise men and how they brought meaningful gifts to Jesus. How can our gift-giving honor Jesus? Let’s ask God to give us worshiping hearts like theirs and to guide us as we share our time and treasures this December.
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