Three wise men chose three wise gifts to give to a newborn in Bethlehem: gold, frankincense and myrrh, possibly symbolizing Christ’s royalty, divinity and humanity. They traveled far and for quite some time before they found the baby, born to a virgin named Mary. Divinely guided to the place where Joseph, Mary and the baby were staying, the three wise men entered. Immediately, they bowed in worship as they saw the infant savior, Jesus.
Even for us today, the choice of gifts is important. Once the hustle and bustle of Christmas celebrations have eased, all of the gifts have been opened, and the meals have been eaten, you might want to set aside time to decide on your three wise gifts for 2023.
Whether you’re single, married, or have a family, ask yourself three questions:
- What three gifts or talents do we/I have as a family or an individual?
- In 2023, what three ways can we/I impact the community?
- How can these gifts be used as a form of worship and servanthood to Jesus?
When our kids were in elementary, we addressed the first question and realized our family loves hosting others in our home. We started with an annual Christmas party where four close friends were invited; each would then invite four more couples or friends who needed to broaden their friend group. Our home was full of people making new connections and developing newfound friendships.
Using a different model, for a more intimate time to get to know our guests, we hosted dinners for those whose lifestyles were quite opposite to ours. We wanted to show our children that Jesus did life with everyone and wanted all to experience his love. Our purpose was to develop a deeper relationship with our guests. This emulated the many stories of how Jesus enjoyed dinner with individuals who were not a part of his regular group.
Also, each year we met with the school counselors and nurses to let them know we’d be happy to provide anonymous Christmas gifts to children or families who may not be able to have a good Christmas.
I share these ideas hoping they will allow you to see how creatively your gifts can be used and that it does take time to plan and prepare. Using our gifts and talents was a family decision, and the purpose was to honor Jesus with our gifts.
Nursing home visits touched hearts
To become more involved in our community, we turned to the elderly population. Our hearts were very empathetic to the elderly, so every year we would gather friends and walk through nursing homes, singing Christmas carols to those who were bedridden. For the residents who could gather in the music room, the young children played their favorite Christmas songs on the piano and violin, and the choir of adults and children would belt out everyone’s favorite holiday songs.
The celebration usually ended humorously as we were not always on key or the song started out too high for us to finish. Regardless, it was a wonderful time spent visiting with the residents, listening to their stories, touching their hands, and seeing their faces light up as young and old came together. Throughout the years, we’d go back to assisted living facilities and play bingo with the residents. It is quite a sight to watch the seriousness of bingo. We realized regardless of age, no one likes to lose.
While the kids were young, we were introduced to the needs in El Salvador and would travel annually to work alongside a local missionary. We built houses, ministered in the local schools, and established amazing relationships that today are still connected through social media. Visiting a small, impoverished community, we realized how the families had very little and would always bring supplies that were necessary for the day. However, it’s the relationships and deep love that grew between us that has lasted longer than the supplies. The reciprocation of kindness, love, and generosity was far greater than we could imagine, and without a doubt, our lives were much more fulfilled from our time there.
Loving people right where they are
When you think about Jesus and his time on earth, you realize he spent his time with all people. He lived life as a human, yet did all in worship and honor to his father, God. He loved people right where they were and was kind, gentle, and intentional with everyone. He saw their discrepancies, yet knew this was not his intent or motive. He led by example, allowing his words, actions, and lifestyle to give honor back to God. So too, this is our calling — to worship our father God as Jesus did so well.
Jesus’ influence began as a baby. Charles Spurgeon so eloquently shares the magnificence of that truth: “A stir begins as soon as Christ is born. He has not spoken a word; he has not wrought a miracle; he has not proclaimed a single doctrine; but ‘when Jesus was born,’ at the very first, while as yet you hear nothing but infant cries, and can see nothing but infant weakness, still his influence upon the world is manifest. ‘When Jesus was born, there came wise men from the east,’ and so on. There is infinite power even in an infant Savior.”
May we do as the three wise men did when they saw baby Jesus? They immediately bowed down in worship to the infant savior. What a sight it must have been to see these three wise men bowing before a baby!
With each Christmas celebration, families gather, and too quickly the season ends. Let’s be intentional this season to close the year with a plan for 2023. Let us find servanthood ways to use our three wise gifts in three wise ways throughout the year.