Summary: What kind of gifts can we give at Christmas? What can we learn from the example of the Maji’s gifts to Jesus?


Matthew 2:1-12; 2 Corinthians 9:15


It’s the Christmas season once again and our thoughts turn to presents! Kids are making their wish lists; visiting Santa at the mall. Meanwhile parents are running their credit cards up to the limit to get the things to put under their Christmas tree. Let’s face it when we think about Christmas one of the first things we think about is CHRISTMAS GIFTS!

Why are gifts such a big part of the Christmas holiday season? Of the many reasons we could offer, I think one of the most important reasons gifts are so important at Christmas is because of GOD’S GREATEST GIFT—the gift Mary wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger; the gift the angels announced to shepherds; the gift wise men found by following a star; it’s God’s gift of His one and only Son, Immanuel—God with us; the gift is Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:15 (NIV)

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

How are we to describe the indescribable? God’s gift is beyond our ability to fully express in words. How can we ever fully describe or put into words the incarnation, that Jesus, the eternal Son of God put on human flesh and was born to Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem’s stable?

Over the next few weeks we are going to attempt to describe the indescribable! As we look at God’s indescribable gift found within the familiar verses of the Bible in the Christmas story, we are going to see what lessons we can learn for our own lives, lessons we can even apply to the many gifts we give and receive each Christmas.

This morning our thoughts will turn to “A Gift Worth Giving.” Next Sunday we will think about “A Gift Worth Waiting For;” then we will consider “A Gift Worth Receiving.” Finally on Christmas Sunday we will finish this series on God’s Indescribable Gift with “A Gift Worth Understanding.”

ILLUSTRATION: Susie and I did something Friday that I don’t think either of us have ever done. Normally my goal is to stay as far away from shopping on the day after Thanksgiving as humanly possible, but not this year; Susie and I were up at 6:30 and off to the store by 7 to catch some of those incredible bargains available only to the truly committed gift buyers. Fortunately for us the gifts we were after hadn’t already sold out (although we did get the last of one item); I was amazed to hear that some of the supper specials advertised to get people out to the store early had actually sold out by 5:30 in the morning! I’m sorry but I’m not that committed to gift buying; I enjoy sleeping too much for that! So having already started my gift buying for the 2005 Christmas season I’ve thought a little bit about the gifts we give and receive.

As I see it there are basically six kinds of gifts we give at Christmas time.

1. THE OBLIGATION GIFT. Do you know what an obligation gift is? It’s the “gift for gift” gift, or what some of us might call the GIFT EXCHANGE. We all buy gifts for certain people simply because it’s expected; they are buying a gift for you (or your children) so you need to return the favor and buy gifts for them. These are the gifts with “strings attached” or rules and guidelines for gift buying so that everyone is treated fairly. To be honest, the obligation gift or “gift for gift” gift exchange is my least favorite gift to give and receive.

2. THE “KEEP UP WITH THE JONES” GIFT. These are the gifts you buy for yourself or your kids that everyone just has to have. These are your WANTS. I understand from out talk around the thanksgiving table that one of these gifts this year is the new “X BOX 3” with a price tag of only $400; don’t worry if you can’t find it at the store you can buy it on e-bay for $2,000! The “Keep up with the Jones” gift has nothing to do with what you or your family needs it’s all about what you want. While these gifts may be fun to get, they are also the gifts that will keep you in debt because your wants are always greater than what you can honestly afford.

3. THE APPRECIATION GIFT. These are the gifts you give to say, “Thank you.” Your boss may have given you a ham or a turkey as a small way of saying “Thanks for doing a good job,” or your employer may give you a “Christmas Bonus” if you have worked hard and the company has realized earned a profit. You may give your kids an appreciation gift for getting good grades on their report card or for doing their chores around the house. Appreciation gifts are an unexpected way of showing tangible yet heart felt gratitude for what others have done for you.

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Theodore Rissmiller

commented on Nov 19, 2006

I think this is a perfect sermon to start the Advent season with. Excellent!

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