Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him. Matthew 2:1
An African boy listened carefully as his 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 friendship 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 gently fingered the gift.
The youth 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.”
Don't you just love that story? During the holiday season, we scurry about swiping those plastic cards through the credit card machines faster than a speeding bullet. And yet, God has already shown us that the most precious gifts cannot be bought or sold.
The magi also knew about the joy of giving. While they gave gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ Child, they also gave another gift…a long walk. We don’t know how far the magi traveled, but we do know that it was a distance that took months, perhaps years. Their long walk was part of the gift.
I wonder how far we are willing to go to worship Jesus…to bring our gifts to Him. I wonder how far out of the way we will go to praise Him. Do we only give to Him when it is convenient or easy? Or do we give what He wants most—a portion of our selves, our very lives.
I think the little African boy had the right idea. The real gift wasn’t the shell; it was the sacrifice he had to make to give it.
God gave us an incredible gift through is Son. I pray that we all will keep gift giving in perspective this holiday season and give gifts from the heart rather than the pocketbook. Most importantly I pray that we give God the only gift he wants... us.