Matthew 2:11 (NKJV)
“And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
Have you ever spent time coming up with a list of things you wanted for Christmas? Maybe there was a time that your ideas kept growing till what you ended up with was a dream sheet that was very unrealistic? How about a time when you weren’t thinking about yourself, but the different people in your life and what they may want?
Whether you are young or old you probably spent some time in one of these categories even if you knew certain things were not possible. Too often we fall into the trap of just looking at the material rather than remembering what this season is about. The world bombards us with endless ads trying to sway our thoughts and priorities.
I know I have too often let all this distraction affect my mindset and change the direction that I should be looking. The voices of the world are shouting for us to pay attention to the next gaming system, who has the biggest sale, or telling you what you need to do to make your loved one happy. When this happens, we begin to forget the real meaning of Christmas.
The holiday is for everyone to celebrate the birth of Christ our Savior, but many only look for the parties and the presents. Some of us may try to walk on both paths with being part of all the planning at church while we fill our schedule with the next gathering at work or with family and friends. This approach only causes that already stressful schedule to become overbearing.
There are also a lot of people who have unrealistic expectations placed on them. A single parent who is struggling to make ends meet, the family member who just lost their job, or that person who is stuck where they are and cannot make it back to be with their family. We have seen how these types of expectations have pushed far too many people over the edge into doing things they normally would not.
If we look back at that first Christmas, we would find a very different attitude and meaning. As we know from the stories that go with the opening scripture, the wisemen presented Jesus with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The gold is a traditional gift for kings, frankincense is burned to signify righteousness, and myrrh is used in anointing royalty.
These were excellent gifts to symbolize the magnificence of the event and is said to be the catalyst for our modern gift giving. It is even also said that one of the important underlying reasons for the custom is appreciation. We give people in our lives gifts to show them how grateful we are for them and value what they mean to us.
It is not too hard to believe that such beginnings could turn into the child focused capitalistic event it has. The holiday that was about celebrating the birth of our savior has lost much of its meaning to countless people. Even many of those who profess to be Christians have trouble refraining from the temptations that are all around them.
On that glorious night, Christ was our gift and that is what we should be celebrating today. We should not be concentrating on the giving of presents, but rather on the presence of God that came into the world to save us. The star revealed it to the wisemen, the angels announced it to the shepherds, and they all came to bow before Christ.
James 1:17 gives us a very good explanation of what we have received from God. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” So, as we can see, no matter what gift we give or even receive will not compare to the gifts that God has given us.
Jesus came into the world to save us and show us how to live. Everywhere He went, He reached out to the lost and the hurting. He gave of himself freely until he gave His last breath to save us all. This was done because of the love that God has for all of us and His desire for us to accept His gift of eternal life with Him.
In this season, think more of others than yourself. Not just those in your family, but your friends and neighbors who may not be as fortunate. Jesus showed us that everyone is our neighbor and we should be reaching out to them. Just by sharing the love that God told us to, every family and every community becomes stronger.
We need to remember what is taught in Acts 20:35, “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Those who have can tell you that giving from the heart is a feeling that is very hard to describe.
So, find where you can help and give what you can. You may be the answer to that person’s prayer as they face their greatest need. And remember it is not the presents that make this season, but His presence that makes everyday special all year. As you begin to look for those who you can help, please enjoy, “Think of Our Friends and Neighbors.”
THINK OF OUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS
Three came from the East following a star that shown so bright,
Bearing gifts for a King who was born on that faithful night.
The gold was for His kingship and anointing with the myrrh,
With frankincense for His righteousness that was holy and pure.
They even came from far away fields to offer their words of praise,
Then bow before His presence and a song of celebration raise.
Though honored as a King, that night many soon forgot,
Till His life was taken, on the day when our sins were bought.
Not only remembered for his sacrifice but also for his birth,
We must all decide for ourselves what His gifts were worth.
Do we look at only the material on that night they came to give,
Or do we see what He has given us with the lessons on how to live?
To love our God and neighbors and treat everyone the same,
Working always for His glory, not looking for fortune or fame.
To forgive as we are forgiven while reaching out to all in need,
Being a humble servant through consistency in word and deed.
The material wants to take precedence in the world today,
But the Lord gave all to save us and show a better way.
In this season as we prepare to celebrate the arrival of our Savior,
We need to find our priorities and Think of Our Friends and Neighbors.
Simple Faith Christian