Have you ever considered the gifts of the Magi? They weren’t practical gifts, and Jesus didn’t need them. But perhaps that was never the Magi’s intent. The gold, frankincense, and myrrh were part of the wise men’s homage to the King of kings. As the Christmas song “Little Drummer Boy” observes, the point of bringing gifts to Christ is to honor him, whether with gold or lambs or a song (“Little Drummer Boy”). And perhaps some of the best gifts are like this: not practical or reasonable, but a demonstration of one’s estimation and love of another. In fact, this is what O. Henry’s short story “The Gift of the Magi” is about. Della and Jim value each other more than their greatest treasures, and when they end up losing their two valued possessions because of this devotion, their love is even sweeter and more precious, for they have proven that they prize each other more than any treasure in the world.
More than two millennia ago, God gave the world its greatest gift: our Lord Jesus. To save sinners, God sent his Son to a life of humiliation and lowliness, of temptation and sorrow, of suffering and crucifixion. By giving up Jesus to death on sinners’ behalf, God demonstrated the greatest act of love the world has ever known, “for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Authorized Version, John 3:16). God’s gift is proof of how much He prizes His people. Writing to the church in Rome, Paul says, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31b-32).
In response to God’s gift, what can Christians give? Della and Jim sacrificed valued possessions of equal worth for each other, but nothing can equal Christ, and God already owns the universe. Christina Rossetti’s carol “In the Bleak Midwinter” penetrates to the heart of the matter with these words, “What can I give Him, poor as I am? / If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; / If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; / Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart” (Dearmer 398). What greater gift can one give in response to God’s love? All people are poor and sinners, but in Christ they are rich, and in Christ their hearts are made new and alive, ready to be given away.
Dearmer, Percy, R. Vaughan Williams, and Martin Shaw. The Oxford Book of Carols. New York City, New York: Oxford University Press, 1964.
“Little Drummer Boy.” Carols.org.uk. 18 Nov. 2015 <www.carols.org.uk/little_drummer_boy.htm>
The Holy Bible: Authorized Version. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, n.d. Print.