Pearl of Wisdom:
“Many curry favor with a ruler, and everyone is the friend of one who gives gifts.”
THIS WEEK I SENT OUT THREE Pearls of Wisdom on the topic of gifts. I suppose I felt led to select them as I pondered the gifts I would be giving this Christmas. But it is interesting to note they represent some of the only proverbs on the topic of gifts in the entire book. And the one for this Wednesday illuminates the dual potential of gifts: power and emptiness.
I want to delight my children on Christmas morning. But delighting my children, who are privileged year round, is actually a pretty tough challenge. The things that elicit anything close to delight are really pricey. And actually, they are not things that delight me to give. Legos, video games, and other electronic gadgets of endless digital entertainment top their wish lists. These are the items that will elicit the “ooohs” and “aaahs” that create the desired Christmas morning effect.
But in reviewing the three verses from Proverbs this week (18:16, 19:6 and 21:14) I am reminded of the potential power of gifts: to open doors, make friends, bring peace and more. Where does all this power come from? My guess after considerable thought is that:
A well-chosen gift declares a person’s worth to both the giver and to God.
That is powerful. And that is precisely what the gifts given to Jesus did.
The gift-giving custom of Christmas is an echo of the gifts given to the baby Jesus by the Magi, commonly referred to as the Three Wise Men or Three Kings.
The adoration from these men of power evidenced Jesus’ worth in their eyes. The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh symbolized Jesus’ role as king, priest and sacrifice in the Kingdom of Heaven.
This last type of gift was given to him again right before his death when Mary anointed Jesus with an expensive jar of pure nard, a treatment fit for a dying king. This act caused many in the room great discomfort at the thought of so much value being poured out for seemingly no good reason, when the money could go to the poor instead.
But Jesus corrected the scoffers, saying there would continue to be poor in need of help, but that he would soon be gone. This confirmed what Mary must have known in her spirit as she wept at his feet. This gift illuminates once again the three roles of Jesus – that of king, priest and sacrifice.
What is interesting is that these gift-givers, the magi and Mary, clearly recognized who Jesus was even though others around them did not. And they gave gifts which at once spoke over his life and expressed their adoration. These gifts were physical markers of spiritual significance.
Insight to Action
I want to give my children gifts of spiritual significance at Christmas. As a parent I desire to speak prophetically into their lives. I want to show them how valuable they are to me and to God.
But Top 3 on my son’s list this year are: Pokemon Black II DS, Lego Malevolence Star Wars, and Epic Mickey 2-in-1. I’d really have to stretch to see the spiritual significance in these gifts. If I give them, I will be opting for momentary entertainment and a fleeting picture of happiness instead of spiritual power and lasting value.
But what does a spiritually significant gift look like? There are not many modern-day examples to follow. Gold, incense and myrrh would not go over well on Christmas morning at my house. How about yours?
Give me the wisdom of the Magi and the heart of Mary as I contemplate how to give powerful gifts to my children. Give me a vision of their place in Your Kingdom so I may speak into their lives and present them with physical tokens of their spiritual significance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
I would love to hear from you. Do you give Christmas gifts with spiritual significance? Have you done away with gifts of pure entertainment? Have you found a way to combine them both? Please share your thoughts with a reply below.