Peninsula Community Church
What Do You Give Jesus for Christmas?
December 18, 2016
Matthew 2:9-11 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Our story today picks up where we left off last week. The wise men moved from their encounter with Herod to find the Christ child. We do not know how long the trip was from the visit with Herod to actually encountering the Christ child but we know that it took some time. They were looking for the one sign that would lead them to the Messiah. When they saw the star that was pointing the way to Christ they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Their reaction to the star showed the intensity of their expectation and their desire to see this child. The passage here states that their joy was exceedingly great. Their joy overwhelmed them and they expressed their joy in their worship.
As they entered the stable where the Christ child lay, they presented Him with gifts. Each gift presented showed the value and honor they were giving the Christ child. They presented Him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. For most of us, at a first read this does not mean much but each of these gifts in the economy of the day had great value. The gift of gold was given to the Christ child as a way to honor Him as the King of this world. They recognized what many did not see in their day. He was the king of the world and they chose to honor Him as such. The second gift they brought was the gift of frankincense. Frankincense was given to Him in recognition of his position as the high priest. Frankincense was used by the priest when he went into the temple to present the people before God. It was in essence one of the symbols and tools for worship. They gave Him myrrh because myrrh was used as an embalming oil. They recognized that He was to die for the world. Their gift was a prophetic statement of what was to come. The wise men had a vision for this child more than the scholars or the religious leaders of their day. They gave gifts that spoke to His royalty as King, His priesthood as the intercessor for the people, and the one who would die for our sins.
When we give gifts, especially here at the Christmas season, we try to give gifts based on who the person is and how much we love them and know about them. But what do you do when you have to buy a gift for the person who has everything and can buy what they want when they want it? As I was preparing for this message, I was thinking about this Christmas season and what gift could I give to Christ. This was a difficult thought process because certainly Christ has everything He needs and what He does not have He could create as He has the power to do so. After some thought, I realized the answer was already given to us. The greatest gift we can give to Christ is ourselves.
The greatest gift we can give to God is to say, “Lord, I give You my life. I give You my talents. I give You my abilities. I give You my dreams. I give You my future. I give You my weaknesses. I offer myself, all of myself, to You.” Our posture should be one of outstretched hands and open palms to give Him our life and all that we are. Any other approach communicates that we are approaching God with clinched fists or clinched teeth which speaks of resistance and rejection.
Too often we hold back from God just in case. We hold back from God because the last time we fully trusted someone they wounded us, the betrayed us, and they failed to live up to their promises. So we approach God the same way. We approach Him with fear and the apprehension that He will fail us, let us down, and in the end we will be left wounded and destroyed. But I can assure you that God will never fail you or let you down.
Paul in Romans 12:1-2 perhaps defines the giving of one’s self as a gift to God better than anyone else. Paul states I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
What is the gift Paul is referring to here? It is the gift of ourselves as a living sacrifice. Our gift to God is a resistance to being conformed to this world but rather a focus on being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Rather than settling for the status quo, we begin to adjust our lives in order to follow the ways of God. Each day we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. The result is that our way of thinking, the way we act, the way we perform our duties in life begin to be transformed so that we are much more like God in what we do. Can you imagine what life would be like if we truly committed ourselves to God and refused to be conformed to the world’s image of ourselves?
Let me sum this up by saying the best gift we could give God is to live the life He has designed for us to live. It means that we walk in forgiveness and healing so that we are free to be all that He desires. I know what you are thinking because I have thought it myself. It is too hard and it is impossible for me, there is just too much to overcome. But when we give ourselves to Him, He will begin the work of healing and restoration in us. That is His plan and it is has been His plan from the beginning of time. But how do we do this?
First of all the passage before us says that we should offer ourselves to God because of His mercy. Paul presents God’s mercy as the strongest argument for giving ourselves to God. When we fully recognize all that God has done for us the only response worthy of Him is to give Him our whole being, our whole mind, soul, and spirit. We were all sinners and sin had deadly consequences but while we were yet sinners He died for us. His mercy moved Him to give Himself so that we would be forgiven of our sins in total: those we committed, those we are committing, and those we have yet to commit. It was His mercy that saved us, redeemed us, and began a process of restoration. It was His mercy that will sustain us.
Secondly, we must offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. What an oxymoron. We are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. Most sacrifices of the Old Testament were slaughtered before they were sacrificed. Paul, however, is calling for us to present ourselves as living sacrifices not as dead lifeless ones. The expression of a living sacrifice is used as the backdrop to the Old Testament sacrificial system where an animal would be sacrificed for the forgiveness of one’s sin. You see in the Old Testament man offered an animal but in the New Testament man was to offer himself. We are to be the sacrifice God receives. Because we are living sacrifices, we are to be a living sacrifice wherever we go. This means at the office, at school, in our homes, and wherever we go we should live as as a sacrifice to God.
Thirdly we must offer ourselves to God through transformation and renewal. We best demonstrate our commitment to God by refusing to conform to the world by being transformed through renewed minds. When we give ourselves to God it is reflected in how we live. Worshipping people are changed people and that is reflected in their walk, their talk, and their personality. When we give ourselves to God we live as transformed people who live Christ-centered lives and not self-centered lives.
Finally, we offer ourselves to God all of the time. Living implies life. Offering ourselves cannot be contained in a one-hour service on Sunday. A living sacrifice implies a sacrifice that is alive and continuous in action. It moves from one activity on Sunday to all of our activities: each relationship, each task, each opportunity, each problem, each success, and each failure. Even the most common of deeds become an act of worship. Real worship is the offering of our everyday life to God.
In the final analysis, the best gift we can give to the one who has it all is ourselves. It is a choice we make but that is what He desires and that is what best reflects our love for Him. Today, as we gather around the Lord’s Table we are reminded that He loved us enough that He gave Himself completely to save us and redeem us from our sin.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom