Summary: A Christmas Message.
THE REAL CHRISTMAS GIFT
INTRO: One of the most beautiful Christmas stories ever penned in the secular world is O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi.” It is the account of a young couple and what they gave each other for Christmas. Although rich in love, they were poor financially, and because of this approached the Christmas season with great hope but few resources. He wanted to give his wife an exquisite set of jeweled combs for her beautiful hair. She wanted to give him a fancy watch chain for his heirloom watch.
Christmas Eve they were beside themselves because they had each purchased their dream gift. He had pawned his watch for the money to buy the combs, and she had cut her hair and sold it for the money to buy the watch chain. Though the gifts were, at the moment, unusable, they were unforgettable.
This story reveals to us the real spirit of giving and the meaning of gifts at Christmastime.
I. CHRISTMAS AND GIVING ARE IDENTIFIED TOGETHER.
The biblically based story of the Wise Men and their gifts forever links Christmas with giving. Every Christmas pageant displays this interrelationship.
The gift of gold, rare and precious and impervious to rust, was a fitting gift for a newborn King. It represented Royalty.
Frankincense, coming from India by way of Arabia, was utilized in worship and depicted Jesus’ role as a prophet. It represented Deity.
Myrrh, the pungent gum resin obtained from the trees of East Africa and Arabia, when combined with other drugs was a pain reliever and portrayed Christ’s role as priest. It represented His healing powers or His suffering.
That first Christmas, those celebrating the event brought gifts.
II. CHRISTMAS ITSELF WAS GOD’S GIFT TO HUMANITY.
Paul depicts our Christ as God’s gift to all of us. In urging the Gentile Christians to make a gift to the needy Jewish Christians, he reminded them, as incentive, that God had given His Son to them.
Although rich beyond compare, He was willing to become poor that we might be rich (2 Cor. 8:9).
Our Lord’s gift is the ideal example of true giving. His was not a bargain struck, a bribe offered, an exchange made, or an investment put aside. He gave freely and unconditionally of Himself.
ILLUS: Gf-371 OUTGIVING. A wealthy Easterner, wanting to outdo his Texas cousin in sending a gift to his grandmother, purchased a zirkah bird. He paid $25,000 for the bird that could speak five languages and sing three arias.
With great excitement he called her the day after Christmas. “How did you like the zirkah bird?” he asked. “It was delicious, she responded. How often our gifts are misunderstood! (Proclaim, Oct. 1986, p. 41)
III. CHRISTMAS IS BOTH A GIFT AND A CHALLENGE.
A real gift has two qualifications:
1. It must be given without any strings attached.
2. It must not be costless to the giver.
God’s gift to us fits those characteristics. His gift was not given because of our goodness but because of our need, not because of our loveliness but because of His love.
No other religion offers such a gift of God Himself. Paganism speaks of men leaving this earth to become gods; only Christianity speaks of a God who chose to become man.
The gift of Christmas is an eternal gift. It is not only for this world but for the world to come. It is good for life and death.
Here the challenge rings loud and clear. When we think of Christmas we must think of giving but not just giving to one another. We must think of a needy world that has yet to know the Christ child, of millions who have never. known the real joy of Christmas. We must give freely of ourselves that all might have “the gift”!
CONC: Gf-372 WHAT WILL YOU DO ABOUT IT? A pastor friend told a penetrating story about a mission tour to the Far East. In Hong Kong he came upon a moving, touching scene.
Outside a bakery window, a hungry little girl had fallen asleep with her face pressed against the window that separated her from the fragrant bread inside. He snapped a picture of that poignant scene and, when presenting his slide presentation back at home, always climaxed his sermon with that picture and an appeal for people to share Christ, the Living Bread, with a hungry world.
Following one such presentation, one person lingered behind and asked a penetrating question. “What did you do about it?” “About what?” the pastor replied. “About the little girl asleep at the bakery window,” the man said. “What did you do about that?” Our question this Christmas is, “What will you do about it?”