Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Gifts Part 1: Gold

Christmas is here! One Christmas song says that “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” It is certainly an exciting and busy time of the year. Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? Have you even started?
It seems that finding the perfect gift for our friends and family seems to be an obsession at times. However, this Christmas, I have heard of many who are cutting back a bit due to a tough financial year. Whether you are staying with a budget or going all out for presents, please try to remember in all of this business, the reason we give.

The giving began with the gift of Jesus. God became one of us, so we could be forgiven of our sinfulness, and have a closer relationship with Him. That gift could never be matched by us. We simply do not have the ability to give that sacrificially. However, if we look to the first human gifts, given to celebrate the birth of Christ, then we may be able to begin thinking about what we can bring to God at Christmas.

Chapter 2 of Matthew tells us the story of the wise men who came to bring gifts to the newborn King. 
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” 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. (Matthew 2:1-2, 11) 

These gifts were grand presents for the new King. However, they had spiritual and symbolic meaning as well. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we will examine each gift and discuss what they might teach us about the things we can bring to Christ this Christmas.

Gold is a wonderful precious metal. It is very expensive in today’s world and was equally so in the time of Jesus. Gold was not something that was necessarily brought to a newborn baby. However, scripture tells us not only that the wise men brought this gift of gold, but also that it was a fulfillment of prophecy. The multitude of camels shall cover your land, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall proclaim the praises of the LORD. (Isaiah 60:6) In other words, this gift of gold represented Jesus’ kingship. This was a gift traditionally given to royalty. The Magi, were well aware that they were giving this gift to a newborn King.

Gold also represents wealth and material goods. Perhaps the message of this gift from the wise men to Christ, is that we should also give Him our material goods. Jesus spoke many times in His ministry about the evils of loving money more than God.

Jesus told one young man who asked Him about how to acquire eternal life, to keep the commandments. When the young man replied that he had done so all of his life, Jesus pushed a little further, “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:21-22)
It is imperative that we be willing to give up all the possessions that we have if it means gaining Christ. Most of the time, we are not asked to do such, but we must be willing, if we are truly to be followers of Jesus.

What possessions do you need to surrender to Jesus this Christmas? If you look at what takes up most of your time, energy and money, you will find the answer. Are you willing to present it to Christ, just as the Magi laid their gift of gold at His feet? He gave His all for us. Pray and ask God for the strength and wisdom to give all that you have to Him.

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Mark 8:34-36 NKJV)

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