Giving from the Heart

According to the legend, a desert wanderer happened upon a spring of cool, crystal-clear water.  The water was so delightful, he decided to bring the king a sample of it.  Barely quenching his own thirst, he filled his leather canteen and began his lengthy journey in the hot desert sun to the palace.

When he finally reached his destination, the water had become stale because of the old leather container in which it had been stored.  The king graciously accepted the gift of his faithful subject.  He tasted it with an expression of gratitude and delight, and the wanderer went his way with a joyful heart.

After he had gone, others in the king’s court tasted the putrid water and asked why the king had pretended to enjoy it. “Ah,” responded the king, “it was not the water I tasted, but the spirit in which it was given.

During this Christmas season, in what spirit are we going to be receiving and giving our gifts?  Are we going to be like the wise men who came in search of the newborn King, bringing their gifts and bowing before Him in adoration?  Matthew 2:11 records, “And going into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him.”  And they offered to the Christ Child the gifts they had brought for Him, “gold and frankincense and myrrh.”  They gave with love and adoration from their hearts.

The shepherds adored Him, too.  They heard about Jesus from the angels as they sat outdoors watching their sheep and ran to Bethlehem to see the Christ Child.  They didn’t have gifts to bring as the Magi did, but they, too, responded in adoration.  Luke writes, “And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning the Child.  And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them” (Luke 2:17-18).

God gives gifts to each of us and uses us to tell the Good News of the birth of His Son Who came to bring us forgiveness of sins and life eternal.  Some of us, like the Wise Men, are blessed with monetary gifts to be used to support mission and ministry.  Others of us are more like the shepherds, able to “make known… [what has] been told [us] concerning the Child.”   By God’s grace, all of us can respond by giving our time, talent, and treasures from hearts filled with God’s love.  In these ways, we adore our Savior.