Since our family is observing the Advent Conspiracy, we’ve been thinking differently about gifts. I shared in my 11/29/2009 post that my children, my husband and I will not be buying gifts for each other this year (other than stocking stuffers). We will be buying "gifts" from World Vision, Samaritans Purse or Touch The World to benefit those in need. We will be contributing to provide clean water, livestock and food for villages, and helping women learn a trade to support their families ravaged by AIDS.
This week, my husband said that the magi gave gifts, but not to each other. The magi’s gifts were given to Jesus. (How did we get the idea that Christmas is about giving gifts to each other on Someone else's birthday anyway?) Our family's gifts this year will also be given to Jesus because He said that “whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for Me.” (Matt. 25:40)
What about the gifts that the magi gave? Gold, frankincense and myrrh… The magi didn't stop in Target or Walmart for these items. It is said that these gifts were not randomly chosen. They each have spiritual meanings:
Gold represents royalty, a symbol of His kingship on earth.
Frankincense is a symbol of priestship. The priests burned incense representing the prayers of God’s people, and Jesus is the great high priest (Hebrews 4:14).
Myrrh is an embalming oil or spice, and as such, represents death. Even at His birth, the reality is that reason He came was to die.
He is the King of kings and most deserving of receiving gold. But we are His children, joint heirs with Christ, a royal priesthood. So what can these gifts represent to us?
If gold represents His and our royalty, what noble qualities is He developing in us? Do we live like paupers, bereft of the riches that He offers us as His children? Are we growing fruit of the Spirit? (Gal. 5:22-23) Do we exhibit the peace that passes understanding, the result of thinking noble thoughts (Phil. 4)? Are we storing up treasures on earth or in heaven? (Matt. 6:19)
The Book of Revelation refers to incense as being the prayers of God’s people ascending to heaven (Rev. 5:8 & 8:4). We are a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9) offering prayers on behalf of others and for ourselves. Our prayers can be hindered due to unconfessed sin or praying outside of His will. But sometimes, what seems like unanswered prayer is really an opportunity for His grace to be sufficient, for us to rely on Him instead of our own strength (2 Cor. 12:9). What about answered prayers? Can you testify about any prayers that God has answered in your life?
Anyone want some myrrh? Want to prepare for burial? The very thought is daunting I know, but there are things that we do need to die to: the deeds of the flesh, the attitudes of the heart, the things that Jesus came to give us victory over. These must be dealt the death blow.
May His gifts be yours this Christmas. May you experience His royal character. May your prayers ascend to heaven unhindered, a fragrant aroma to our King. May He reveal to you the those things that need to be addressed and confessed. And may the gifts that we will give be reflective of our royal relationship with the King.