Giving gifts at Christmas goes back to the gift giving of Magi, which were the wise men that gave gifts to Jesus when he was born. They were led by the holy spirit to follow the eastern star to Bethlehem to become witnesses of Jesus’ birth. And when they saw him, they worshipped him and gave him gifts. For Matthew 2:10-11 says, “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and incense and of myrrh.” Even though we have this scripture to support our gift giving at Christmas time, the gift giving tradition has gotten way out of hand. We probably all agree that buying gifts for our loved ones and friends have caused us a lot of financial grief.
We tend to over extend ourselves because we want to make big impressions and make ourselves look good in their eyes. We wake up at 3:00am to be the first one lined up at the retail stores on “Black Friday” to fight with others to get the best deals. It’s OK to want to save money on our gifts, but God never intended for these things to happen. When the wise men gave Jesus gifts, it was because he was our Lord and Savior coming into the world to save us. Not because they wanted to impress others. So just what does the bible say about giving gifts?
We are to give gifts to glorify God. Matthew 6:1-4 says, “Be careful not to do your “acts of righteousness” before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” This scripture should be applied to our gift giving this Christmas, because we are to give from our hearts and not for show. We should be sure to teach our children the joy of giving and not always receiving. And we shouldn’t give just to receive something back in return, because God will reward us with more blessings than we can count, on earth and in heaven.
We also should give gifts in sparse or bad times. In 2 Corinthians 8:7-9, Paul spoke to the churches who were giving him financial gifts so he could continue ministering about Jesus. “But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty, might become rich.” Even though some of us may be facing hard economic financial problems, we can still give to others, by giving of our time, by volunteering, by lending a helping hand, by praying for someone in times of need or just by being a friend. We can do these things not just at Christmas, but all year long.
And lastly, the true gift of Christmas is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Our society has gotten away from celebrating the true reason for Christmas. Some of us believe that Santa Claus, Christmas trees, presents and food and alcohol are the true reasons for this day. We give the world all the glory and praise and keep Jesus Christ out of the equation. God gave us his one and only begotten son, Jesus – the gift of life! For John 3:16 says, “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.” This is the greatest gift, which is the gift of salvation, that only God could give. If we are sure to keep Christ in Christmas at all times, then when we give to others, it would become a natural expression of that gratitude all year long. For James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights….” Merry Christmas!