I love shopping for gifts, choosing just the right present for that grandchild that leased her own apartment, for that son who devours books like most of us devour cookies. And this year, shopping by Internet made me happy. I just Googled an age and interest and took my pick.
I also love unwrapping gifts. I’m amazed at how well my daughters-in-law and grandkids know me. (I know my sons are not the shoppers.) This year for Christmas one son’s family gave me art work by my favorite artist while the other gave me 100% cotton towels that replaced the ones I’ve trimmed fringes from for ages. And these new ones are the most amazingly soft towels I’ve ever used.
Epiphany on January 6 marks the visit of the magi to the manger. Did the wise men think long and hard over the gifts they offered to the baby Jesus? They couldn’t Google, so how did they choose gold, frankincense and myrrh? Tradition assigned names to the magi: Melchoir, from Persia; Gaspar, from India; and Balthazar, from Arabia. How did they get together anyway? We don’t know.
But we do know the significance of their gifts. Gold was a precious metal, fit for a king. Frankincense was a holy oil, fit for a priest. And myrrh was a substance used for embalming, fit for a suffering Savior.
How did these magi feel after visiting Jesus? I once saw then President Bush when he visited our area. I came away awed at seeing someone of such stature.
The magi somehow knew Jesus was a king, so they must have come away floating on air. They themselves were kings. But they had just met the King of kings.
Did the gift giving of the magi inspire our Christmas gift-giving? Or do we give gifts because God gave us the greatest gift of all—His Son Jesus? Probably both.
“Giving” actually is a gift to the giver. It really is more blessed to give than to receive. And the year holds plenty of opportunities for gift-giving—birthdays, holidays, spur-of-the-moment surprises. So what might we give that sparks joy in the receiver—and in us?
Of course, I give wrapped presents to those I love. It gives me as much or even more joy to watch them open their gifts than to open mine. These are gifts of gold. My family deserves the best.
I also give to charitable organizations and to the benevolent ministries of my church or community. It feels good to know I’m filling someone’s oil tank or helping them buy gifts for their children.
There are ways of giving that don’t require wrapping paper or checks. I give the gift listening whenever a friend shares a problem. That gift costs me nothing but is most precious to the receiver any day of the year. And I feel good about listening. I offer my opinion. I remind them God is with them. It blesses my heart to listen.
Temple visitors enjoyed the fragrance of the oil of incense, and so the fragrance of our gift of listening lingers with others after we part.
Then there’s the gift of myrrh, which represents suffering. We give as we suffer with others. We send sympathy cards. We attend funerals. We hug and share in another’s sorrow. And we come away knowing we have contributed to their healing.
But There’s More to Give:
We all have spiritual fruit to give as gifts as well: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. We distribute these through relationships. Don’t you feel good when you hold a door or pick up something for someone? When you stop an argument with a gentle response? Of course, you do!
And then there are the spiritual gifts. The gift of hospitality does no good if we never open our doors to others. But once we enjoy the feeling of satisfaction that comes after hosting a Bible study, we’ll do it again. And again and again.
And although hospitality in our homes is limited by COVID, we can be hospitable whenever we reach out to others to let them know we care.
The gift of teaching blesses others and surely blesses us as help others understand a concept. The list of spiritual gifts and blessings to the giver goes on. Can you imagine how blessed God feels when He sees us appreciating the gifts He’s given to us?
All that to say, giving is a gift in itself. It blesses others, but it also blesses our own hearts and our souls. So be sure to enjoy giving this year. It’s not a chore. It’s not a duty. The gift of giving is a privilege given to you and me by a Giving God.