December 8, 2015

Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh

These, of course, were the most famous Christmas gifts of all! And they remind us that our tradition of Christmas gift-giving is not totally unfounded. But what will we give to Jesus this Christmas? He was the object of the magi’s affection and openhandedness. Will He be the object of ours? It may seem simplistic, even cliché, to ask it. But I think it’s a legitimate question: What will I give to Jesus this Christmas?

A few suggestions:

Give Him your sins. Doesn’t sound like a very good gift, does it? But that is why Jesus came, is it not? To take our sins upon Himself, and to carry them away from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). And yet, so often, we like to keep them right in our own ZIP+4 don’t we? But isn’t it time we gave them up? And isn’t it time we gave them over to Jesus in repentance? He’ll gladly take them, and receive your repentance as an act of love toward Himself.

Give Him your obedience. Now this is not all that unlike the previous point, is it? To give up your sin is basically one and the same with giving obedience. But there are sins of commission … the kind we must stop. And then there are sins of omission … the kind whose antidote is that we start doing what we have so far neglected. And some of us need, this Christmas season, to give to Jesus a commitment to begin doing that which we have far too long allowed to slide. What is it for you? Something that you know you need to do, but have been dragging your feet about doing? There is no better time than the present to give Jesus your obedience!

Give Him your time. Sometimes our greatest gifts might not be those things we ought to be doing for Jesus, but the time we ought simply to be spending with Jesus. Remember Mary and Martha. What was best, on that day, was not Martha’s bustle, but Mary’s willingness to sit with Jesus and listen. How long since you did that? Not a rushed devotion or a quick prayer … but real time with the Lord, listening carefully and unburdening your soul unguardedly with Jesus your friend. If it’s been far too long, now you know what to give to Jesus this Christmas … and every other time of year, too! He’ll be more than glad to have lunch or coffee with you!

Give Him your spiritual gifts. Now here we talk about gifts given to us by Christ – teaching, giving, admin, hospitality, mercy, and so on. But why has He given them? Not for us to spend on ourselves, or to bury in the ground … but (as with the talents in Jesus’ parable) to invest, as stewards, on the Master’s behalf. So how has the Lord gifted you? And how can you give that gift back to Him, this Christmas, by using it for the good of His kingdom?

Give Him your resources. One of the great blessings that God has given His people in the West is incredible monetary ease. We have enough in this country … and far more than enough! And so we have an obligation, an opportunity, and (yes!) a privilege to translate that financial blessing into kingdom investment. So give Jesus the gift of missionary investment this Christmas. Give to Lottie Moon®, or to HeartCry, or to church planting in new England, or to some other gospel cause you believe in … so that the missionaries will be sent, and the good news will be proclaimed, and the nations will “be glad and sing for joy”, and Christ’s praise will abound to the ends of the earth!

It’s true – Christianity is, at its root, about receiving. In ourselves, we have nothing to offer to God but our sin. And the message of the gospel, therefore, is that God gives to us – new life, and forgiveness, and right standing in His sight, and adoption into His family, and spiritual gifts with which to serve Him, and good laws by which to live, and a heart to keep them, and an eternity in His gracious presence! But we are stewards of these things … not lords. We mustn’t be like those ungrateful children who tear open their gifts without a word of thanks, and then immediately begin shouting ‘MINE’ to anyone who comes within a 24 inch radius. We have been given so much … why? Not so that we might hoard, or spend on ourselves … but so that we might, voluntarily, return the blessings, and the praise, and the gifts, and the good will back to the One who gave them. Let’s do that this December … and the whole year round.

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