Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the joy and cheer, sweet treats, and the wonder in my children’s eyes when they come down the stairs on Christmas morning. But the thing I love most is the Christmas story! In Chip Ingram’s book, Genius of Generosity, he gives a beautiful picture of how true generosity is demonstrated in the Christmas story. To better explain this, let’s look at the six types of gifts given in the Christmas story.
Gift of Treasure – The Wise Men
As the leading astrologers of their time, the Magi studied the stars and ancient text and understood that a King was to be born. Though they knew very little about this newborn King, they still traveled a far distance to worship Him and give material possessions. These were not the typical gifts given to a toddler. The Magi instead gave the best of their possessions, valuable gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These were gifts of great value and cost.
Gift of Time – The Shepherds
The shepherds, who were on the opposite end of the social spectrum from the Magi, 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’ time was valuable, but they gave it up for Him.
Gift of Reputation – Joseph
Joseph, who was a respectable, hard-working carpenter, was asked to give not only his time and money but also his reputation. Joseph is told by an angel that Mary’s pregnancy is not of infidelity but rather a fulfillment of prophecy. This may seem good to most, but Jewish culture at the time harshly judged and condemned this perceived behavior, and certainly no one would believe the story of a supernatural pregnancy. Joseph was a laughingstock in his community and would be misunderstood by many. But Joseph sacrificed his reputation in order to serve his 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. A baby before she was married and raising a child that is the Son of God meant 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 King.
Gift of Life – Jesus
Mark 10:45 – “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.
Gift of One’s Most Valuable Possession – God, The Father
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 does not 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, I pray that you will celebrate Christmas through the lens of generosity.