As early as 1926, Neiman Marcus Company published its first annual catalogue of unusual Christmas gifts to the delight of customers. Then, in 1959, the retailer generated even more publicity by producing a list of fantasy gifts for the person who has everything. This unique holiday tradition continues even today, speculating the most elaborate gifts imaginable.
A few years back, readers could purchase a 74-foot solar yacht for a cool $7.1 million dollars. Buyers with children were free to choose a $250,000 clubhouse for the backyard. This year, fans of Disney can secure the right to star in their own animated film for just north of $500,000.
Lavish presents like these may be entertaining, but few people actually want such extravagant gifts from the people they love. Finding the right treasures for people in our lives is not as simple as it should be, though, because what our friends want and what they need may not always coincide. Even more challenging, sometimes what our loved ones need contradicts what they want entirely! Add in the fact that our desires continually change over time, and finding the perfect Christmas gift is nearly impossible.
Have you ever gotten something you wanted for Christmas, only to regret it a few weeks or months later? Maybe the necktie you wanted didn’t look right after you put it on? Or the blouse you had your heart set on didn’t fit just right? Perhaps the enjoyment you daydreamed your special gift would bring failed to live up to the hype?
Though we appreciate every gesture of kindness we receive from others, most of the prizes we unwrap have a limited giving capacity. In other words, most gifts don’t keep giving after we receive them.
Thankfully, when God made His first Christmas list, the goal was much greater than filling stockings with gadgets or putting wrapped wishes under a tree. Sensing that humanity’s need was far greater than the fleeting joy wrought by temporary fixations, God prioritized our greatest need over our worldly yearnings.
Frankly, Jesus wasn’t on the top of anyone’s wish list in Bethlehem that first Christmas. Yet, the Scripture simply says that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).”
In the fullness of time, our heavenly Father sent forth His Son, born of a woman in order to save us from our sins (Galatians 4:4). In a world ravaged by the consequences of Eden’s curse, Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, revealing the glory of God in every way possible (John 1:14). The good news of this Savior’s birth was intended for all people because He is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10-11). Ultimately, whoever calls upon His name in repentance of their sins and with faith in His sacrifice will be saved (Romans 10:9, 13).
And, unlike the limited shelf life of our modern exchanges, God’s Son really is the gift that keeps on giving. Our Savior gives us eternal life (John 10:28), mercies that are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23), grace upon grace (John 1:16), complete joy (I John 1:4), peace with God (Romans 5:1), and hope for the future (Titus 2:13). Because of Jesus Christ we will overcome the sting of death (I Corinthians 15:54-55), receive glorified bodies (Philippians 3:21), be free from pain and suffering (Revelation 21:4), and enjoy the presence of God forever (Revelation 22:3-4). He is the gift that gets better and better the longer we have Him!
So as you make your Christmas list this year and plan to give others what they want, don’t forget to give someone what they really need — the gift of Jesus Christ. He is indeed the reason for the season, and we should eagerly share Him with others.
Do you have a family member who needs to be saved? Is there a coworker you spend your days with who doesn’t know Christ? Perhaps you have a longtime friend that has never received the Lord? Why not try something different this year and give the people you love what, or WHOM they really need. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? B&R — Dooley is pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson and author of Hope When Life Unravels. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBDooley.