As you wrap up the last of your Christmas gifts, do you wonder if maybe you didn’t do enough? I do! There are some people that I wanted to bless this season and didn’t even find the time to shop for. There’s others that I wish I could have done more for but the gift giving is restricted by yankee swap rules and price limits to keep things “fair.” The cheep side of me loves that someone else set my budget, but the generous side of me wants to just give abundant gifts to all my favorite people.
Giving beyond what is expected can cause a Confidence Conflict.
I don’t know if I have ever really overcome the cheep side of me and been overly generous myself but my husband has and by nature of marriage I have been given credit for his good heart. I’ve seen people get awkward and embarrassed because they felt unworthy of such generosity or ashamed that they could not recipicate. I have also been the recipient of his extreme generosity and personally experienced these emotions which conflict with the joy of receiving. From this I have learned two important lessons:
It takes a confident person to give a big gift without expectations.
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. Matthew 2:11
The Magi were confident. They expected nothing in return for their gifts. They did not fear making this beautiful young family feel awkward in their humble home as they came in with their treasure boxes. We assume these men were rich, but we don’t really know that. They were generous, we do know that. Whether it came from their own abundance or not, it was a sacrifice of love, honor and respect–not to mention the planning, time and discomfort involved in their traveling so far to find Jesus. They were wise. They knew the meaning of the Christ child’s birth and they knew the significance of the gifts they offered. (You can find a simple explanation for why, here.) We would do well to consider the meaning of our gifts this Christmas and to give them with the humility, sacrifice and confidence of a king (or magi).
It takes a confident person to receive a big gift when you are not prepared to reciprocate.
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. Luke 2: 16-20
The shepherds were confident. They ran straight from their fields to find the Messiah that first Christmas night. They had absolutely nothing to offer this child who had been born a king. These were lowly men and young boys who were outcasts from their society. They were poor, filthy and most likely smelt as nasty as sheep. Yet they were the first to be invited–by supernatural beings, mind you–to come see the Savior. We would be wise to learn from their example. First of all, it doesn’t matter what kind of person we are, we are welcomed by God to come, just as we are, to the One who came to save us. Secondly, we don’t have to clean up before we go to Him. Thirdly, We don’t have to bring a gift. Going to Him is our gift.
The shepherds as well as the Magi built Mary and Joseph’s confidence. Imagine how precious of gift it was to this young couple when the shepherds ran into that stable explaining that an Angel had told them of Jesus’ birth! We all need affirmations. I’m sure they were feeling quite alone and scared in that moment. Just think, if the shepherds put the focus on themselves by apologizing for their messy state and their lack of means to give instead of focusing on the reason for their celebration they would have given nothing at all.
Imagine the awe Mary and Joseph felt when the magi humbly offered such extravagant gifts to their poor family. The monetary value was huge, but the emotional value should not be overlooked. If the couple had focused on their own worthiness (or lack of) then their confidence would only have been brought lower and they would not have received the hope it meant to give them. The gifts would have lost a great deal of their (emotional) value.
If you are not feeling confident this Christmas, I encourage you to focus on the Christ child, who choose to come to Earth in the helpless form of a needy newborn baby. He knew that valuable gifts would be offered to Him and his poor parents and He came to receive them with gratitude and humility. He knew that unapproachable, lowly shepherds would come running to Him with nothing to offer and He accepted their excitement and testimony as a beautiful offering. He also knew that, all these years later, you and I would celebrate His birth with whatever we have to offer Rich, royal and respected or poor, lowly and outcast He wants our presence–it is our present. This Christmas, may our gifts, excitement and testimony honor the One who gave His life on our behalf. He receives us just as we are, let us do the same with each other.
Catrina Welch is an inspirational author and speaker whose passion is empowering women and girls to BE and LET BE. Her expertise as a cosmetologist, image consultant and Biblical life-coach, as well as her personal experiences with abandonment and grief make her message relatable to anyone dealing with rejection, betrayal or loss.
Her latest book, CONFIDENT BEAUTY: Reflecting the One Who Made You, with the Images in your Mirror and in your Soul, will soon be available as an audiobook. Autographed copies of all her books are available on her website at www.CatrinaWelch.com