“And when they had come into the house they saw the young child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense and myrrh.” [Matthew 2:11 N.K.J.V.]
Christmas is the time of gift giving. This practice is traced directly back to the gifts the Three Wise Men gave to Baby Jesus. Sometimes the practice of giving gifts causes more problems than it offers benefits. Many families overspend on Christmas and wreck their financial well-being in an attempt to keep up with their friends. I can remember as a teenager hating to go back to school after Christmas when all my friends would brag about all they had gotten for Christmas, and I never got as much. Up until that time I really did not realize that by material standards how poor my family really was. I was embarrassed to have to admit that I only received one small gift, and there were years I did not get that much, while my friends had gotten so much more. Sometimes I was tempted to lie about what I had gotten, but I knew lying was wrong.
Looking back on my life, I now can see that while my family was lacking in material things, they were able to give me the greatest gift of all. Realizing now that, even as a teenager facing all the peer pressure that teenagers face, I was still able to know that lying was wrong was a great gift indeed. Telling a lie might have made me be better accepted, but not giving in to that temptation speaks volumes of how rich spiritually my family really was. The greatest gift of all that my family gave to me was faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
I cannot remember a time when prayer was not a part of our life. Blessings were said before each meal. Children were taught to pray as the last thing you did at night and the first thing you did the next morning. There was never a question of if we were going to church—if the church doors were open, we went. Some of my earliest memories are of my playing around my mother’s feet as she worked on a quilt and told me the stories from the Bible. I honestly cannot remember a time when I did not know about Jesus. The strength and the comfort of the Christian faith sustained and kept me, even during those times I rebelled against that faith. What a great gift my parents were able to give me.
So this Christmas give your children, your grandchildren, or the neighborhood children, the gift of faith. Take the time to tell them the stories of Jesus. Live a life that brings honor and glory to God before them. Be their example of who a Christian really is. Long after the material gifts that you may give them are broken, lost, or worn out, or become “boring”, the Christian faith will still be with them and it can change their lives. God gave the world His Only Begotten Son at that first Christmas and that is the greatest gift that ever was. The greatest gift that you can give is to share Jesus with others.