And the wise men came to worship – bearing gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh. We exchange gifts because the wise men brought gifts to the Christ child. But, I have to wonder if we got Christmas gift giving wrong from the very beginning. I wonder if instead of exchanging gifts with each other, Christmas should have been about giving gifts to Christ all along. It is after all a celebration of His birth – of His coming down to surrender His life in order to redeem our lives. Should not Christmas still be about bringing our finest gifts to Him?
Over the years I have learned to listen closely for offhand remarks by loved ones in order to determine gifts they would like to receive for birthdays and Christmas. But, I’ve found it’s best to request a wish list as well.
Have I listened closely enough to the Lord over the last year to have picked up on the gifts His heart desires to receive from me? It’s highly likely that I have been far to self-absorbed – begging for or demanding answers from the King of kings. Listening only for the answers I desperately want instead of listening for what Jesus wants to tell me, leaving me clueless as to what gift Christ would most like to receive from me this year. I think I’m in need of a list.
I wonder what kind of list He would prepare for me. Would the wish list He placed in my hand look like the generic list you give to extended family? You know the one where you withhold the things you most want because they are far too costly. Or would it be the list a child gives to a parent because the intimacy of the relationship gives you confidence that those are the things they most want to know about – because they have planned to be as extravagant as possible when selecting a gift for you?
Which kind of list would Jesus present to me and what would It include?
Would regular church attendance top His list? Time reading His word? Prayer throughout the day instead of when I’m rushing out the door or drifting off to sleep at night? Some form of service to the body of Christ or to the lost?
What is the gift Jesus most wants to receive from me? Not what he’d be content with receiving but what He most desires to unwrap on the day of His birth?
The thing I find most extraordinary is, Christ’s wish list not only represents any gift He’d like to receive from us, but every single item listed is beneficial to the giver. No matter what gift you selected from His list you would be gifting yourself with more of Christ. More of His presence, more of His wisdom, more of His compassion, simply more of Him. We can afford to be extravagant because most of the things we might commit to give Christ don’t require financial resources, instead they require time, love and commitment.
What gift can I commit to bring the Savior of the world not just Christmas morning but every morning of every day that follows? Will I be extravagant or will I simply choose the easiest, least costly gift on His list? Is His pleasure my goal or is a sense of obligation driving me? Will I give Him my best or simply make do with that which is good enough?
The answers to these questions reveal much about the state of my heart – the depth of my love – and maybe they also reveal my state of mind. Circumstances not only distract but can also limit what you have available to give – the depth of the emotional and spiritual reserves may be depleted. My finest gift may be far less costly than I could afford to give in Christmas’s past.
I think the only one to which the phrase, “It’s the thought that counts” applies may be the Lord God Almighty. He alone knows the sincerity of the thought or intention. He alone fully knows and understands both the heart’s desires and burdens. He alone knows if we are striving to give beyond our means or if we are so lost and overwhelmed that we have little left to offer. He understands because His love is perfect. It is patient and kind and is not at all self-serving. You may find that the gift He most desires from you is little more than a step into the arms that long to hold you, to comfort you.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killers the prophets and stonest them that are sent into thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye wouldest not!” – KJV – Luke 13:34
Will you let Christ gather you to Himself? Will you plan to welcome Him the way you welcome family and friends? Will you listen for His still small voice inviting you to draw near? Will you come before Him in worship bearing a gift for the King of Kings? Will you find Christ in Christmas this year?