Christmas is by far my favorite time of year. I have three little kids and seeing the wonder and joy in their eyes on Christmas morning is priceless. I love the joy and cheer, sweet treats, and the overall feel of Christmas. It feels like generosity is on full display. People want to give abundantly. In Chip Ingram’s book, The Genius of Generosity, he gives a beautiful picture of how true generosity is demonstrated in the Christmas story. To better explain this, let us examine the six types of gifts given in the Christmas story.
Gift of Treasure/Finances – The Wise Men
I know that the Magi arrived on the scene later, but almost every Nativity display you will see this year will feature the three wise men from the East. Though they knew very little about this newborn King, the Magi still traveled a far distance to worship Him and give material possessions. These were not typical gifts given to a toddler, instead they were the best of their possessions: valuable gold, frankincense, and Myrrh. These were gifts of great value and cost.
Most of us stop at this point in our own generosity. We think giving money or assets is the extent of our giving. It is only the start of true generosity.
Gift of Time – The Shepherds
The shepherds did not have money or many possessions, but they responded by giving what they did have- their time. The night Jesus was born, the shepherds stopped their work and went to visit Jesus. After seeing the King, the shepherds could not help but tell everyone what they had witnessed. The shepherds did not have time to spare. They needed to watch their sheep, which was the only means of their livelihood. However, they knew that seeing Jesus and telling everyone about Him was far more important.
Giving time is extremely difficult for 21st century American Christians. We have packed schedules with work, family activities, and extreme social calendars. Let us all find time this Christmas season to stop to worship and serve the King.
Gift of Reputation – Joseph
Joseph was a respectable, hard-working carpenter. Joseph is told by an angel that Mary’s pregnancy is not of infidelity, but a fulfillment of prophecy. While this may seem good, the idea of a supernatural pregnancy made Joseph the laughingstock in his Jewish community. He sacrificed his reputation to instead be obedient to God’s call.
When was the last time we took a stand for our faith in Christ? Were we mocked or ridiculed by others? Did our reputation suffer? In 2020, many Christians stood up for their political beliefs, but I would love to see all of us stand up even more adamantly for Jesus. May we all give up our reputation to glorify the King.
Gift of Future – Mary
Mary, a teenage girl, planning her wedding, was dreaming of her life with her husband. She was asked not only to give up her reputation, but also her future. Delivering a baby before she was married and raising a child that is the Son of God led to her giving up all plans she had for her life. Mary’s response is pure, unadulterated obedience. Mary gives her entire future to her baby son and the King.
I like to plan my future and make sure that everything is secure. This in itself is not a bad thing. However, I must be ready to give up all of my plans, ambitions, and entire future in order to serve God. Let us all hold our plans loosely and hold firmly onto Him.
Gift of Life – Jesus
Mark 10:45 (NIV) – “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Jesus came to give His life for us. His gift of life through His death and resurrection was the ultimate sacrifice. He relinquished His earthly body so that we may share eternity with Him.
Most of us will not be called upon to give our physical life for the faith. However, all of us are called to give our life, mind, body, soul and spirit, for Him. This cannot be halfway. You must give all for Him.
Gift of One’s Most Valuable Possession
What is your most precious possession? God the Father, the creator of the universe, had nothing more precious than His one and only Son. There is so much to unpack here, but I will keep it brief – the hardest things to give are things we cherish most deeply. Yet, God gave His Son that we might have eternal life. I would give anything – my money, possessions, reputation, future and my life, before I would give and sacrifice my wife and children. But God chose to give His Son for me. Because He gave, let us also give everything to Him.
Each character in the Christmas story was asked to give something of great value. God doesn’t measure generosity by the size of the gift, but by the size of the sacrifice. By practicing generosity, we draw closer to Jesus, and our generosity journey encourages others to draw closer to Jesus through their own generosity. Chip Ingram says that “Generosity is a gateway into intimacy with God.” As you spend the Christmas season with your loved ones (perhaps virtually), I pray that you will celebrate Christmas through the lens of God’s ultimate generosity.