Turn on the TV these days and you will be bombarded with Christmas themed commercials touting what the manufacturers claim are the perfect gifts for those you care about. Christmas and gifts just seem to be synonymous, don't they? In the Christmas story, the wise men from the East brought gifts to honor the newborn King of Israel. And, of course, the greatest Christmas gift is the birth of the One for whom the holiday is named, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Two of my favorite Christmas songs, "The Gift" by Garth Brooks, and "The Little Drummer Boy" by the Harry Simeone Chorale, speak of gifts offered to Jesus. "The Gift" tells of a poor orphan girl named Maria who brings a gift to the church on Christmas Eve. That gift is a small bird that she had nursed back to health. And, of course in "The Little Drummer Boy" the title character offers his drum playing to the baby Jesus.
In these two songs, the persons giving the gifts are concerned that their gifts are unworthy or unfit for the King of kings. Maria sees all of the other people bringing lavish gifts to lay by the manger in the church's Nativity scene, gifts such as gems, gold, and expensive perfume. And the little drummer boy travels to the stable with the wise men and sees that they have brought Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Compared with these gifts, their gifts seem like nothing. But, in both cases, their gifts were greater than all of the other, expensive and lavish gifts. Why? Because, not only are they giving all they have, but they are also giving from their hearts.
One day, Jesus sat opposite the place where people came to give their money offerings to God. As He sat there, many wealthy people came and placed large sums of money into the collection box. Then, a poor widow came and put two small copper coins into the box, a very small offering. Jesus called His disciples over and told them that, although the widow's offering was a small one, it was greater than all of the other offerings.
Now, I'm sure that the disciples stood there scratching their heads and thinking, "How could her offering be greater than the others. I think Jesus needs to brush up on His math!" But Jesus explained it this way. All of the other people, those who gave large sums of money, were giving out of their abundance. The widow, on the other hand, was giving out of her poverty. While the others may have given a lot, they likely had plenty to spare. But the widow was giving everything she had, all the money she had to live on. (Mark 12:41-44)
The offerings that please Jesus the most are not the ones that are greatest in worldly value. He is pleased with all that we give Him of course, but what most pleases Jesus is the gift that is a sacrificial gift, one that is not from our abundance, but one that costs us something. The gift that pleases Him most is the gift of our hearts, the gift of a life fully surrendered to Him.