Summary: Gifts-whether it's giving them, receiving them, opening them, enjoying them-we love it all. Christmas is a big day for that. We're familiar with the story of the wise men bearing gifts when they visited Jesus but what else does the bible say about gifts?
IT'S A GIFT
Gifts-whether it's giving them, receiving them, opening them, enjoying them-we love all of it. Obviously Christmas is a big day for that. We might be familiar with the story of the wise men bearing gifts when they visited Jesus but what else does the bible say about gifts?
1) God is a re-gifter!
The idea of gift giving and receiving was a pretty big to-do in the Eastern culture. Smith's bible dictionary for the word gift reads, "The giving and receiving of presents has in all ages been not only a more frequent but also a more formal and significant proceeding in the East than among ourselves. We cannot adduce a more remarkable proof of the important part which presents play in the social life of the East than the fact that the Hebrew language possesses no less than fifteen different expressions for the one idea. The mode of presentation was with as much parade as possible. The refusal of a present was regarded as a high indignity. No less an insult was it not to bring a present when the position of the parties demanded it."
And there was not a more prominent situation that warranted the bringing of gifts than the arrival of the Messiah. That's what we see the wise man do when they entered the presence of Jesus. Matt. 2:9-11, "After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh."
The wise men presented Jesus with appropriate gifts-gold represented royalty and honored Jesus as a king. The incense honored Jesus as their God and myrrh represented burial signifying Jesus' death. But I wonder what they did with these gifts. Did they hold onto them and give them to Jesus when he grew up? Did they use the incense and myrrh to freshen their house as these things were highly aromatic? Did they sell or trade the gold to have money for provisions? Obviously Jesus himself wouldn't have need for these things as a baby.
So, although the wise men's gifts were for Jesus no doubt Mary and Joseph were the ones who benefitted from them. When someone gives us a gift we don't need or can't use what do we do with it? We re-gift it; we pass it on to someone else who could use it. We might be a little embarrassed if the gift-giver found out about it but at least our intent is to bless someone else. It might make us feel better to know that God is a re-gifter too. God takes what is presented to him and re-gifts it; he blesses someone else with it.
Num. 7:1-6, "When Moses finished setting up the tabernacle, he anointed it and consecrated it and all its furnishings. He also anointed and consecrated the altar and all its utensils. Then the leaders of Israel, the heads of families who were the tribal leaders in charge of those who were counted, made offerings. They brought as their gifts before the LORD six covered carts and twelve oxen—an ox from each leader and a cart from every two. These they presented before the tabernacle. The LORD said to Moses, “Accept these from them, that they may be used in the work at the Tent of Meeting. Give them to the Levites as each man’s work requires.” So Moses took the carts and oxen and gave them to the Levites."
So, although the gifts were technically for the Lord, they went to benefit the Levites for the work they needed to do. Later in Numbers you see the same thing only with food. The donation was in essence brought to the Lord but it was for the benefit of the workers in the sanctuary. That's how it is with gifts that are given to God. Today we see this regarding tithes and offerings. We are giving back to God a portion of what he's given to us but does it go to God? No, it goes to his church and to ministries and people the church helps to support.
God has no need for money; but people do. God wants for nothing but his creation is in need for many things. God may be the one getting the gifts but we are the ones benefitting from them. God is a re-gifter. And I'm perfectly okay with God taking my gift for him and giving it to someone else. So, if I ever give you a gift and it's not your thing by all means, do the God thing and bless someone else with it.