Christmas day is upon us. Shopping, buying, feasting, and gift-giving. If you’re like me, all of these are things your hastily trying to finish up. Christmas gets busier and busier each year. And it seems there are more and more people to buy for. Now I’m all about giving gifts-I really enjoy being able to bless others especially this time of year. But in all our rushing and buying and giving, do we ever slow down enough to even consider what birthday gifts we are giving Jesus?
Yes, remember it is His birthday! And usually the birthday boy is the one who gets the gifts. Unfortunately, we’ve made Christmas such a big event that we often forget that first and foremost it is the birth of our Savior. And as such He deserves gifts. So I ask again, what is your birthday gifts for Jesus?
Are you wondering what kind of gifts can I give Jesus? Or how do I even give Him a gift? Maybe you’re wondering what does Jesus really want? Well it’s not all that hard to find out what Jesus wants for Christmas. He actually told us what He wanted and how we could give Him gifts in His Word.
Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me….And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ “-Matt 25:34-36;40
After reading this passage, it appears that Jesus wants us to help those who truly need help-those who can give us nothing in return. And in so doing, we are actually ministering to Jesus Himself. That means we should seek out the poor, the hungry, the thirsty and give them food, clothing, and drink. We should seek to serve others. But not just during Christmas. Jesus wants us to live a lifestyle of service as Christians.
But how do we do that? What if we are struggling ourselves? What if we don’t have extra to give? Well there are two things that we can always give. They don’t cost any money, but they are a sacrifice. It will require a little boldness, time, and compassion. So what are these two gifts?
The first birthday gift for Jesus is praying for others.
Yes, that seems pretty simple, right? Just pray for others. But if that often seems hard, then here is an idea that will help you. Most of us pray before we eat, so use that to pray for others. Every time you go out to eat, as your server brings you your meal, ask if you can pray for them. Yes, I know-what do you say? Well, you say, “We always pray for our meal before we eat and we just wondered if there was anything we could pray for you for? Maybe family, friends, health, etc.?” (I wish I could take credit for that idea, but I heard it at a recent revival.)
It is amazing how well that works. No worrying about what to say or how to word it. And most servers are really shocked that you care enough to consider them. It opens the door for further conversation about Christ. And it’s a very gentle way of asking if you can pray for them without them feeling like your assuming something about their life. And giving them some examples like family, friends, health, (or any other idea you think of) helps to break the silence and gets them thinking. Many times our server will ask us to pray for someone else, not necessarily them, but it’s still an open door. And a few times our server has waited and prayed with us! It is such an awesome feeling to bring others to the throne of God’s grace. What better gift could we give the Lord Jesus for His birthday?
Now for the second birthday gift for Jesus. It is actually even better than the first, but it does require some sacrifice.
The second birthday gift for Jesus is a year of living for Him.
Now that may sound a little odd. I mean, aren’t we supposed to live EVERY year for Him? Yes, we are! But how many of us live daily for the Lord? None of us live every day fully devoted to God. So how do we get better? How do we learn to draw closer to Him this next year than we were last? Well, we plan. We take inventory of our lives. We write out-on paper-our commitments to Him.
For the past couple of years, our whole family has written a letter to Jesus at Christmas-sometime between Christmas Day and New Year’s before the decorations were taken down. Even our youngest, when he could barely write, would write out a sentence or two to Jesus. It didn’t have to be elaborate, just heartfelt. The purpose of the letter was to tell Jesus how thankful we were of all He had blessed us with, ask Him to help us in areas of weakness or sin, and then commit certain things or areas to Him for the next year.
These letters were private and would only be read by others if the author agreed to share them. They would then be placed in the bottom of each of our stockings (the ones hung by the mantle with care) and left there until the next year at Christmas. Then on Christmas morning-if not found before then-each person finds his or her letter and can reflect on what they wrote versus how they lived. What a great way to reflect on Christ on His birthday.
As our children have gotten older, these letters have become longer and more meaningful. And although this “tradition” is fairly new, it’s one I’ve come to really enjoy. It allows me to analyze my life and how I’ve used the time I’ve been given. It also reminds me of Proverbs 19:21
There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel-that will stand.”
I look back at the plans for that year-my plans for that year, and see that not all of those were the Lord’s plans-as good as they may have been or sounded. And it also teaches me the Sovereignty of our Lord as I see His hand and providence in all that the past year has brought. For surely Isaiah 55:9 is true-
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
The great thing about this gift is you can truly customize it to be as detailed and specific as you want. You can just make a list of all you hope to accomplish for the Lord the next year. You can list areas of your life that God has already been dealing with you about and how you plan on giving those to Him this next year to truly do as He pleases. Or you can write a letter to Him as if you were going to mail it to heaven. Regardless of the form it takes, the purpose is what is important. Give yourself to Jesus next year as your birthday gift to Him.
There are so many other ways of giving to Jesus for His birthday. You could search Pinterest and create a whole board of ideas-all of which would be great ways to truly focus on Him. But I like these two gifts because they are simple. They are doable. And they focus on what Jesus Himself taught. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind….You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If you love Him you will have no trouble giving yourself to Him next year, and if you love your neighbor you will have no problem sharing their burdens and praying for them.
So what about you? How do you focus on Christmas as Jesus’ Birthday? What kind of birthday gifts do you give Jesus? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments below.