As I recently painted the Christmas story, I thought how the wise men heard of Jesus’ birth and desired to seek him out and honor him with gifts. Then they not only honored him, they protected him from Herod, by not telling Herod where he was, because they realized Herod wanted to harm him. They knew Jesus was to be honored. Even though I feel there were more than three wise men, I depicted three of them bearing the gifts of worth, which were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These were lavish gifts bestowed upon a king of all ages. I want to focus on the fact that they put great effort and traveled many miles to witness that this ruler had been born. They invested time as well as luxurious gifts. They saw that a child had been born that wouldn’t be a typical man, he had a purpose to fulfill. His purpose was far above any purpose you or I have and he drew crowds everywhere he went as he grew older.
But in that same vein, how often do we overlook others in this world that we come in contact with each day and ignore their purpose in life? How many times do we wish we didn’t have to deal with lines in the stores or the person we have to call to arrange some event, reservation, or to buy something? How much time do we give others? Sometimes a simple sentence of encouragement is all a person needs to hang onto to make it through the day. Sadly, a negative phrase or sentence can have the reverse and harsher effects. Or perhaps there’s a family member who we don’t accept? But that person or those people also have a purpose in life, just like Jesus did, and just like we do. It isn’t just to service our needs or be a thorn in our side, God put them on this earth with a destiny. Are we helping them fulfill their destiny by honoring them as an individual? What gifts do we bring to them? I’m not talking physical gifts, I’m speaking of charitable gifts. The gifts we freely give to our friends. It’s easy to engage with our friends, to offer kindness, to fix a cool drink for them or offer food they like. It’s easy to converse, because we have things in common, but what about people we don’t know or haven’t taken the time to become acquainted? Do we leave them with words of encouragement? Or do we leave them wishing they’d never been born? Do we treat them with honor or impatience? We can make or break others. Words can uplift or they can destroy.
Proverbs 18:21 The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
What about our family? Are we esteeming them or do we bring them words of derision? Do we act happy to see family members we haven’t seen in a while, or do we act like they’re a burden? Is it their character flaw that we see, or is it our own shortcoming that gets brought out when we’re around them and makes us feel exposed? I’ve been around people like this and I had to reassess myself and make adjustments in my own attitude because there was nothing wrong with them, it was their shining example that shone on my lousy attitude. Once I corrected, things were so much better. I was able to see that my outlook was the culprit in the relationship and they’d done nothing wrong. I was just offended that they had exposed my weakness.
Another weakness some of us have is in giving and receiving. When and if we buy gifts for family birthdays or for Christmas; do we purchase the first thing we see, or do we put thought behind it and buy things to honor the recipient? Because a gift given without love, is a gift without life. It would be better to offer love, and be empty-handed than to offer a gift given without love. It’s equally bad to give a gift only in recompense for a gift they’ve given. People know when gifts are sincere and when they are not. They also know when strings are attached, neither are correct. We should give expecting nothing in return and we should give from the heart, not out of duty! When we rush out at the last minute to compensate for another person’s gift, it isn’t heartfelt. I personally would rather leave empty handed and be genuinely thanked for a gift I’ve given than to be given a gift that I don’t need or won’t use, because there was no forethought by the giver.
Can you imagine the wise men buying things along the way or in a rush for Jesus? Or can you imagine them coming back to remind him one day about the gifts they gave and asking him for a favor or some compensation? Yet how many times do people do this? No, their gifts were given from a pure heart, with respect and honor. They were offering and worshipping a baby who had never given anything to them, but they knew the relationship they invested in would give them great rewards. Think about that for a minute… the wise men were investing. How many of us invest these days? Whether it be time, love, kindness, sincerity, or honesty; what do we truly and freely give?
We only get out of a relationship what we put into it. If we dismiss a person as insignificant then they will be insignificant in our lives. But if we see them as valuable and worthy, they become valuable and worthy, even if only to us. You only get what you expect, nothing less. And sometimes it has nothing to do with the other person and more to do with our perception and acceptance of them. Jesus can only be Savior to those who accept him as Savior. But the clerk at our local grocer or our family member will never be cherished if we don’t value them. Let’s try to at least offer kindness, acceptance, honor, and humility to those we come in contact with each day. And in this season of giving, with family members around, let’s go out of our way with them by putting their needs above ours. Give gifts of love, honor, and respect. Show them they’re of value and have a purpose. If we are following the Holy Spirit, this should come easy by evaluating them through Christ. He didn’t hold any sins against them and neither should we.
2 Corinthians 5:16-20 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”