Have you ever stopped think about what will you give Jesus for Christmas this year?
I have a question for you. Christmas is in just a few days, if you’re reading this (or listening to the podcast episode) when it first comes out. And you probably have most of your holiday preparations already taken care of. In last week’s episode, Episode 166, we talked about some ways to get ready for Christmas spiritually. So here’s my question: Now that you are prepared for Christmas in your heart, what are you going to give Jesus for Christmas this year?
He doesn’t need any more gold, or frankincense, or myrrh. And there’s no nearby stable where you could find the baby Jesus lying in a feeding trough to take anything to him anyway.
So what will you give Jesus for Christmas? What could you possibly give him that he doesn’t already have?
What does Jesus want for Christmas?
He doesn’t need any things. He needs your love, your loyalty, your obedience.
Now, if you’re a regular listener of The Bible Speaks to You Podcast, you’re probably already full of love for Jesus and you try to obey him to the best of your ability. Take a moment to stop and appreciate what a beautiful thing this is.
Jesus wants your whole heart, every minute of every day throughout the years. He wants, and deserves, our every thought and action to be loyal to him.
But as much as we may desire this goal to be fulfilled in our lives, it takes work. And sometimes we may fall a little short.
It requires self-sacrifice of the human ego and opinions we hold so tightly to our chests and in our hearts. It demands we let go of all the petty little fears and hurts, doubts and resentments, that pollute our memories.
Maybe another way to ask the question is,
What will you give up for Jesus this Christmas?
Will you finally forgive Aunt Sophie for how she betrayed you nine years ago and give up your bitterness and desire for revenge?
Will you forgive your mom and dad for the mistakes they made in raising you and let go of your resentment?
Will you replace being so judgmental of others with compassion?
There are so many things we could add to this list.
Will you do this for Christ? It’s not always easy. It takes humility. But there is something incredibly rewarding when we let go of selfishness, past anger, hurt feelings, and animosity.
Give Christ more space in your heart
When you clear out the emotional debris from the chambers of your heart, you’re giving Jesus the gift he most desires. You’re giving Christ more space to occupy in your heart. In a way, metaphorically speaking, you’re fluffing up the hay in the feeding trough that would be baby Jesus’s crib, away from the hustle and bustle of that noisy inn.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 ESV
This is one of the greatest gifts you can give Jesus: obedience which is the result of love.
When you forgive those who have wronged you, you are obeying Jesus’s command to forgive. When you love others as yourself, you’re obeying his command. When you love your enemies and pray for them, you are obeying Jesus.
Every time you obey one of Jesus’s commands, you are giving him a priceless gift.
So, I’ll ask again,
What will you give Jesus for Christmas?
Now, you may already be doing a pretty good job of loving your neighbor, forgiving folks, and following Jesus’s example in the way you interact with people, but there is always room for us to do a little bit better.
This is where I think of Chapter 25 of Matthew.
Jesus is talking about people who called him Lord, thought with all their hearts they loved him and would do anything for him personally, and yet he still rebuked them. He says to them,
” ‘I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ ” Matthew 25:42-45 NLT
What if Jesus said to you that he had needed help but you didn’t help him? That’s quite a rebuke, isn’t it?
Can’t you just hear the anguish in their voices when they said, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
Can you recognize Jesus in everyone you meet?
In their hearts they honestly thought they would have helped Jesus. They loved him, at least to some degree. The problem was, they didn’t recognize him in everyone they met.
Earlier in this passage in Matthew Jesus commends the people who did minister to him. Jesus says of them,
” ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ ” Matthew 25:34-40 NLT
Just like the folks who didn’t recognize Jesus in the people they did not help, the ones whose actions were approved of by Jesus, did not recognize him in the people they did help.
Again, imagine their surprise, when Jesus told them they had actually been doing their acts of kindness to him, whenever they helped someone else.
Looking at Scripture through the lens of Christmas
I know, this is not a new idea. I’ve talked about this passage in Matthew, Chapter 25 several times on the podcast. But I think it’s important to look at it again through the lens of Christmas and what we have to give Jesus.
I was talking to a friend several days ago, and have actually heard from several people, about all the rushing around they do getting ready for Christmas, buying presents, cleaning and decorating their homes, cooking for visiting family members. There can be so many things to do and places to be at Christmas time.
All these friends were wishing for a little more quiet time to pray, be still, and listen for God’s voice amid all the hustle and bustle of the season. Sometimes, it seemed they hardly had a minute to themselves, there was so much to do.
Have you ever felt that way? I certainly have on too many Christmases, especially when my kids were little. There was always so much to do.
Recognizing Jesus in everyone
What if, in all your busy activities and preparations, you could recognize Jesus in everyone you met: family members coming for the holidays, sales people in the stores, all the crowds in the stores racing around frantic to get everything done? Think of everyone in traffic going and coming somewhere.
What if you could see the Christ in all these people and treat them with the same love and respect you would treat Jesus with?
I can’t think of anything better to give Jesus for Christmas.
And it’s also the best gift you can give yourself. When you treat others this way, it plants a holy, unselfish joy in your heart that nothing can compare to.
I know, it’s sometimes hard to remember to do this when you’re involved in an activity, especially if there are several people and different opinions about what to doc or how to do it. But even if you did this with just one person each day, it would make an incredible difference in your life.
Make it part of your day
There are probably lots of ways to approach this, but I see at least three things that might be helpful to make this part of your days leading up to Christmas.
First, think about how you love Jesus. Deeply ponder your love for who he is and what he did, not just for you personally, but for the whole world. In the quiet chambers of your heart, cherish your love for Christ.
Now, before your day gets started and runs away with itself in all the activities you have to be part of, think of everyone you’ll be with, like family and friends specifically. And then think of anyone in a more general sense that you’ll see during the day, like people on the streets, in traffic, in the stores, in a restaurant, etc.
Take just a minute to embrace them all in the love you have for Jesus. And for just a minute, “pretend” they are Jesus. Love them as much as you would love him. You could actually take just a few minutes and do this before you even get out of bed in the morning.
Then, as you go about your day, take a moment as you walk into a store, or when you’re at a stop light in traffic, or when you’re cooking a meal for friends and family, to consciously love, in real time, everyone in that particular situation as much as you would love Jesus.
Treat people as if they were Jesus
Treat them the same way you would treat Jesus. Be grateful to and for them the way you are grateful to and for Jesus.
And then do it again, and again. Keep it up until it comes more naturally and happens more frequently. And don’t stop after Christmas has come and gone. This can be the way we love and interact with people all year long.
Now if you realize at the end of the day you haven’t loved people like this because you got so involved in everything you had to do, you can do this retroactively. Go back and think of all the people you interacted with during the day. Just take a few moments to embrace them in the same love you have for Jesus.
Love yourself the way you love Jesus
And while you’re loving and being grateful for everyone this way and treating them like you’d treat Jesus, don’t forget to include yourself. Will you recognize the Christ in yourself? Will you love yourself the way you love Jesus?
To love others and yourself this way is the very best gift you can give Jesus. This is the best gift you can give anyone and everyone else. This is the best gift you can give yourself.
I wish you a very Merry Christmas. I love each of you, my blog readers and podcast listeners. Some of you I know personally, some of you I have never met. But I hold you all in my heart this Christmas. I recognize and cherish the Christ in you.
James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
John 14:15 ESV
15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Matthew 25:42-45 NLT
42 I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink.
43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
Matthew 25:34-40 NLT
34 ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.
36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?
39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!