Here is a beautiful story about giving that I first heard many years ago. It can be found in many places, though one source credits it to “My Christmas Treasury” by Norman Vincent Peale.
An African boy listened carefully as his missionary teacher explained why Christians give presents to each other on Christmas day. “The gift is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our love for each other,” she said.
When Christmas day came, the boy brought to the teacher a seashell of lustrous beauty.
“Where did you ever find such a beautiful shell?” the teacher asked as she held the gift up to the light.
The young boy told her that there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could be found. When he named the place, a certain bay several miles away, the teacher was left speechless.
“Why…why, it’s gorgeous…wonderful, but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get a gift for me.”
His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of gift.”
The Apostle Paul declared in Philippians 2 that Jesus was willing to leave the splendor and glory of heaven to enter our existence. He humbled Himself to become a man and, even more, He humbled Himself unto death. According to v7 and 8, “he (Jesus) made himself nothing, by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Jesus made a long walk from heaven to earth, from divinity to humanity, from Life to death. It was a Long Walk from heaven to the cross. Thankfully, He was willing to “go the distance” for you and me.
Jesus gave and gave and gave. He gave up His place in heaven to live with us. He gave up His super abundance and became nothing. He gave up His life of blessing and glory for death upon a cross so that He could be our Great Substitute. He took my place and your place of punishment and judgment for sin. Along with the Apostle Paul, we thank the Father for “his indescribable gift” to us (2 Corinthians 9:16)!
What gift will you give to Jesus this year? He is not looking for something that can be gift-wrapped and placed under a tree. He is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). He is looking for those who will surrender their lives to Him (Romans 12:1-2). He is looking for those who will joyfully do His will (Matthew 7:21-23). He is looking for those who will use the talents He has given them for His glory and Kingdom (1 Corinthians 12). What gift will you give Him?
In 1872 the English poet Christina Rossetti penned the words to the beautiful poem, “In the Bleak Midwinter”. In the early 1900s a melody was added and it has been named the best Christmas carol in a poll of some of the world’s leading choirmasters and choral experts in 2008. The last stanza asks this question:
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.
Our Christmas series, “The Gifts of Christmas”, concludes this Sunday, December 24, with the joyous story of “Wise Men: The Gift of Giving” from Matthew 2. While shepherds were the lowest in their society, the Wise Men were the at the top of theirs. Yet they also humbled themselves to come and worship the newborn King. It is a reminder to us that everyone is welcome to come to Jesus: rich & poor, young & old. Please invite someone to join you at 10:35am in the building or online for the Live broadcast on either Facebook (Honolulu AG) or our YouTube channel (Honolulu Assembly of God). We livestream every Sunday to both locations.
I look forward to sharing Christmas Eve with you.