Have you ever been Christmas shopping and purchased more items for yourself than those you were supposed to be checking off your Christmas list?
My six-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, and I were fighting that very battle when we went to fill up our Operation Shoebox with Samaritan’s Purse. Purposely giving to others in need is a Christmas tradition I’ve included Gabrielle in since she was a toddler. Every year, we fill up a shoebox, shop for a Salvation Army Angel Tree child her same age, and she helps me choose projects to sponsor around the world. I want her to learn about the needs of others, how God uses our resources to help others, and how giving is a lot more fun than receiving.
But as we stood in the store asking ourselves what this little girl would like, Gabrielle kept noticing all the things that she liked and wanted. She was quickly forgetting why we were there.
I wonder if you are like me and struggle with the same thing during this Advent season. Are you like me and forget why we are headed to the manger and what it looks like to really give good gifts?
After we returned home from our Christmas shopping, I was frustrated. I want Gabrielle to be generous. I want to be generous.
We talked about how we have to try to focus on others and how it’s so easy to think of ourselves. We talked about why we give, especially during this advent season. We talked about why we need to give to those in need, not just those that give us a present in return.
I heard myself say, “Let’s look for ways Jesus is working around us. Let’s unwrap the gifts He has put inside of us to share with the world. Let’s look for His light, just like the Wise Men did, and bring Him good gifts by loving others.”
I realized I want to focus, especially this year, on being like the Wise Men.
The Wise Men from the Eastern lands had a very small but important part in the arrival of Jesus. Only a few sentences are written about them in all of Scripture, but their gifts are remembered and crucial to the survival of Jesus in the world.
They knew to look for the star. They looked to the heavens and had been watching for the Light. They had studied the sky and knew the light when it appeared. They knew it wasn’t just any star; it was going to lead them to the King of Kings.
Their response to seeing God’s light was to follow and to give. They brought what God nudged them to bring, not realizing how much each gift would be needed in the years to come and a foreshadowing of Jesus’s sacrifice. They were obedient in their gifting, and their worship was to bow their crowns and give the greatest gifts they already had — to give their gifts in love back to the One who gave, to give gifts fit for a king.
I’m challenging myself and my family to be like the Wise Men — to study God’s word so we know how to look for the Light and follow it, to approach the birth of Jesus with the good gifts He has already given us to unwrap and share so others can experience the bright Morning Star too, to know our gifts will help us worship the King of Kings, to give to Jesus the gifts fit for a king that He’s placed in each of us.
Just like the Wise Men, I am confident God will make it clear to us where He is at work. We can follow His light and join Him there, bringing our time, money, and the very gifts He has placed in us that only each of us can unwrap and share.
Be wise and follow the light.
This season, remember to unwrap the gifts God has given you to help and empower, support and give to those He loves. Allow Jesus to live through you to be a light in someone else’s darkness.
God will use your gift to worship Jesus.
Father, we want to worship Jesus like the Wise Men You called to Your earthly arrival. Help us see Your shining star today. Open our hearts to listen to Your voice and focus on Your light. Guide us to the places You are at work. Help us to know what to bring. Use our gifts to expand Your kingdom. Encourage us to bow our hearts, schedules, and finances before Jesus. May we experience Bethlehem anew. Thank you for including us in bringing heaven to earth. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Let’s look for ways Jesus is working around us. Let’s unwrap the gifts He has put inside of us to share with the world. -Stephanie Bryant: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
This line really hit me: “Their response to seeing God’s light was to follow and to give. ” If I am to be a wise person, I need to see and read His word, follow Him, and then give back to others who are less fortunate than me. The Bible is clear about looking after the orphans and the widows. As the founder of Redeemer Christian Foundation, we minister to orphans and destitute children in the Middle East. We dare to go where few will go – into a dark corner of the world void of the light of Christ – to reach the forgotten and the lost. We provide our own Christmas Program including giving children the only gift they will receive at Christmas. Operation Christmas Child (shoeboxes) deemed where we are operating as “too dangerous to go.” Our school transforms lives with the love of Jesus and the hope that a Christian education provides. It combats human trafficking. It is House of Hope. If you’d like to learn more …http://redeemerinc.org
Done. Jesus said “Let the little children come to me.” I want to help. I am so not in need of any more stuff this year. These children need to know Jesus.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Thank you so much…you are a woman of your word. Thanks for pouring out love on these precious children and letting them know that they are not forgotten this Christmas. They are so hungry for the light and love of Christ in this part of the world and we are so thankful for the hedge of protection that God has placed around us that we can be harbingers of the Good News. Thanks to you, I guarantee, that lives are being transformed! God bless you…
Stephanie Bryant says
This is truly amazing!!! Thank you for obeying God’s direction and bringing His light into a dark part of the world. Blessings on this great work!!!
Nancy Ruegg says
In your prayer you thank God for including us in bringing heaven to earth. What an awesome privilege that is, to participate with Him in the work He’s doing to transform lives! With you I ask God to bow my heart (my desires), schedule, and finances before Jesus. May I be ready and willing to “help and empower, support and give to those He loves”–wherever I go. Thank you, Stephanie, for a needful refocus on what’s important!
Oh how true your statement is… I think we are all guilty of discovering we …shop for ourself …! It’s the time of year when everything glitters and the stores are full of merchandise that catch our eyes instead of the gift we need for others…
Keeping our eyes on Jesus and what gift He would like us to buy for others , being available to help the sick, lonely, widows , giving to orphans, needy is exactly where Jesus would focus.
Lord God..please keep my eyes and heart, in the right direction and my ears in tune to listen and obey with a generous giving spirit. Amen
Have a Blessed Christmas ..Giving brings more JOY than receiving.
Beth Williams says
I have a friend whose grandson amazing. He is constantly thinking of others. This year he said he didn’t need anything for Christmas but wanted to buy a gift for a child in need. Wow & at only 6 years old. He has great parents & grandparents.
Over the past several years I have been doing angel tree gifts. I feel blessed to help those in need. I don’t really “need” anything. These children could use some nice items. For two years now I have done “senior” angel tree. Same idea as angel tree, but for senior citizens. One year I got two nice outfits for a woman & this year I got an electric blanket for a man-it was what he asked for. Seniors are often forgotten this time of year. So many are widows or widowers & live alone. My hubby & I sponsor a child from Ninos De Mexico-orphanage in Mexico. I always send money so she can buy a gift for herself. God has blessed me so much over the years & now it’s my turn to give back to the world. Wanting to share His light & love to this sin dark world.