“Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, where is the One who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1-2).
I heard a story that I’d like to share with you this morning …
An African boy listened carefully as his missionary teacher explained why Christians give presents to each other on Christmas day …. “The gift is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our friendship for each other,” she said.
When Christmas day came, the boy brought to the teacher a seashell of lustrous beauty. “Where did you ever find such a beautiful shell?” the teacher asked as she gently fingered the gift …..
The youth told her that there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could be found. When he named the place, a certain bay several miles away, the teacher was left speechless. “Why, it’s gorgeous…wonderful, but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get a gift for me.” His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of gift.”
I just love that story. During this holiday season, I’ve watched as people scurry about swiping those plastic cards through the credit card machines faster than a speeding bullet. And I think, God has already shown us that the most precious gifts cannot be bought or sold ….
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
The magi also knew about the joy of giving. While they gave gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ Child, they also gave another gift.… a long walk. We don’t know how far the magi traveled, but we do know that it was a distance that could have perhaps took months, maybe even years. Their long walk was part of the gift ….
As I thought about this; I wonder how far we are truly willing to go to worship Jesus …. to bring our gifts to Him. I wonder how far out of the way we would go to praise Him, to honor Him. Are we thinking that the more we buy and swipe those cards we are honoring Him …. Are we showing honor for Him in allowing our children to sit on the lap of that jolly fat man sitting on his throne …. Do we give to Him only when it is convenient or easy? Or do we give what He wants most; our whole hearts and our very lives?
I think the little African boy had the right idea. The real gift wasn’t the shell; it was the sacrifice he had to make to give it. Love is in the sacrifice ….
Let’s remember; it isn’t in the gifts that we buy, the huge amount of food that we cook and consume, or the frantic hustle and bustle work involved that gives a gift to Jesus.
In conclusion, think about a time when someone’s sacrificial gift meant a lot to you. Can you remember that feeling you had, or perhaps how you felt when you gave a portion of yourself, such as your time, to someone? The real heart of Christmas is the indescribable gift of love that Jesus gave to us through His birth ….
Try to imagine the teacher who received the shell. What thoughts do you think came to her mind when she looked at it year after year? Do you think it was the shell itself, or the heart of the boy who gave it to her, that meant so much?
Now, imagine how God looks at our gifts we give to Him? Do you think He reflects on the gifts themselves or the heart of the child who gives it? Today, let’s consider what gift we will offer the Christ-child this year. Let us all be like the wise men and seek Him ….
Dear God, thank You for the gift that You gave us through Your Son Jesus Christ. And I thank You for that precious sacrifice that He made to express the depth of His love for me. I pray that I will keep give-giving in perspective this holiday season and give more gifts from the heart rather than the pocketbook. Help me Lord to see that a “long walk” or a portion of myself is the better gift this year. In Jesus name I pray, Amen ….