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"A Gift for Jesus"
by Tom Goodman
December 15, 2005

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?  Maybe you’re more like my brother who doesn’t shop until December 24.  He says he’s addicted to the adrenaline high he gets from the pressure of buying everything at the last minute!

Our gift-giving isn’t done until we’ve decided what to give Jesus.  After all, it’s his birthday celebration, isn’t it?  What better way to honor him than to support efforts to proclaim his message!  I hope you will join my family in supporting our church and our missionaries this December.  Our church has the task of sharing Jesus across the street and our missionaries have the task of sharing Jesus across the sea.  In these last two Sundays of 2005, let’s make sure to financially support this worthy work.

The Christmas story of the Magi can help us decide on our gift for Jesus this Christmas.  You remember the story of the “wise men” from the East who brought gifts to Jesus of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  How can their gift-giving inspire our gift-giving?

First, our gift to Jesus should represent the best of who we are.  The Magi’s gifts represented the best of who they were.  Gold, incense, and myrrh may sound like odd gifts to give a baby.  Today at baby showers we give clothing or toys or nursery monitors and such.  But the gifts the Wise Men brought were solemn and serious gifts that were costly, coveted, and admired in their time.  Generous, costly giving to our church and to our missionaries represents the best of who we are.

Second, our gift to Jesus should represent our understanding of who Jesus is.  This is true when we look at the Magi’s gifts.  They brought the finest of who they were because they assumed they were going to visit someone who deserved the finest.  Our support of our church and our missionaries reflects our understanding of who Jesus is.  My Jesus can calm fears and instill hope.  My Jesus can mend hostility between tribes or races.  My Jesus can raise people up out of addictions and habits that make their lives miserable.  My Jesus can free people from superstitions.  My Jesus can heal sick bodies.  Even more, when sickness leads people inevitably into death, my Jesus can free people from the fear of death.

If I really believe that my Jesus can do all this, then it will be reflected in what I give to enable the message of Jesus to spread around the world.  Our gift to Jesus should represent our understanding of who Jesus is.

Third, what prompts us to give and how God uses what is given are often different.  We are not told whatever happened to the gifts the Magi gave.  How were they used?  I have an idea.  Immediately after this story, God warned Joseph in a dream to escape the madness of Herod by fleeing to Egypt.  So, this impoverished peasant family made their way into hiding.  Now, how do you think they afforded that trip and their stay in North Africa?  I think the gifts the Wise Men brought were probably used for the practical necessities of their trip.

Was that the reason the Wise Men brought their gifts?  No, they gave them as a way of honoring Jesus.  But in his divine providence God had them bring these fine and expensive gifts so that Joseph would have a way of taking care of his family’s needs.

Today, it is the same. In our weekly giving to this church we give as an act of worship.  But how God uses what is given is often very practical—as mundane as paper for the copying machine or pencils for the pew racks or fluorescent bulbs for the classrooms or a hundred other ordinary things.  Likewise, when we give to missions, we give out of worship, and then God uses the gift for such practical things as gasoline for a missionary’s car, or toner for the missionary’s printer, or airfare for the missionary’s travels.  The Magi brought their gifts for very exalted reasons:  God used their gifts for very ordinary purposes.  So it is today.

Join Diane and me in supporting our church and our missionaries in the next two weeks.  Like the Magi, bring the best of who you are, bring something that reflects the worth and value of Jesus, and know that God will use whatever you bring for the practical needs of getting the gospel across the street and across the sea!