Have you ever been Christmas shopping and purchased more items for yourself than those you were supposed to be checking off your Christmas list?
My six-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, and I were fighting that very battle when we went to fill up our Operation Shoebox with Samaritan’s Purse. Purposely giving to others in need is a Christmas tradition I’ve included Gabrielle in since she was a toddler. Every year, we fill up a shoebox, shop for a Salvation Army Angel Tree child her same age, and she helps me choose projects to sponsor around the world. I want her to learn about the needs of others, how God uses our resources to help others, and how giving is a lot more fun than receiving.
But as we stood in the store asking ourselves what this little girl would like, Gabrielle kept noticing all the things that she liked and wanted. She was quickly forgetting why we were there.
I wonder if you are like me and struggle with the same thing during this Advent season. Are you like me and forget why we are headed to the manger and what it looks like to really give good gifts?
After we returned home from our Christmas shopping, I was frustrated. I want Gabrielle to be generous. I want to be generous.
We talked about how we have to try to focus on others and how it’s so easy to think of ourselves. We talked about why we give, especially during this advent season. We talked about why we need to give to those in need, not just those that give us a present in return.
I heard myself say, “Let’s look for ways Jesus is working around us. Let’s unwrap the gifts He has put inside of us to share with the world. Let’s look for His light, just like the Wise Men did, and bring Him good gifts by loving others.”
I realized I want to focus, especially this year, on being like the Wise Men.
The Wise Men from the Eastern lands had a very small but important part in the arrival of Jesus. Only a few sentences are written about them in all of Scripture, but their gifts are remembered and crucial to the survival of Jesus in the world.
They knew to look for the star. They looked to the heavens and had been watching for the Light. They had studied the sky and knew the light when it appeared. They knew it wasn’t just any star; it was going to lead them to the King of Kings.
Their response to seeing God’s light was to follow and to give. They brought what God nudged them to bring, not realizing how much each gift would be needed in the years to come and a foreshadowing of Jesus’s sacrifice. They were obedient in their gifting, and their worship was to bow their crowns and give the greatest gifts they already had — to give their gifts in love back to the One who gave, to give gifts fit for a king.
I’m challenging myself and my family to be like the Wise Men — to study God’s word so we know how to look for the Light and follow it, to approach the birth of Jesus with the good gifts He has already given us to unwrap and share so others can experience the bright Morning Star too, to know our gifts will help us worship the King of Kings, to give to Jesus the gifts fit for a king that He’s placed in each of us.
Just like the Wise Men, I am confident God will make it clear to us where He is at work. We can follow His light and join Him there, bringing our time, money, and the very gifts He has placed in us that only each of us can unwrap and share.
Be wise and follow the light.
This season, remember to unwrap the gifts God has given you to help and empower, support and give to those He loves. Allow Jesus to live through you to be a light in someone else’s darkness.
God will use your gift to worship Jesus.
Father, we want to worship Jesus like the Wise Men You called to Your earthly arrival. Help us see Your shining star today. Open our hearts to listen to Your voice and focus on Your light. Guide us to the places You are at work. Help us to know what to bring. Use our gifts to expand Your kingdom. Encourage us to bow our hearts, schedules, and finances before Jesus. May we experience Bethlehem anew. Thank you for including us in bringing heaven to earth. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Let’s look for ways Jesus is working around us. Let’s unwrap the gifts He has put inside of us to share with the world. -Stephanie Bryant: Click To Tweet