Four Ways to Honor Christ’s Birthday Celebration
Imagine a large home filled with guests who have come to celebrate the birthday of a beloved friend. Let’s call him Jesse. Scores of acquaintances, work associates, neighbors, and family members gather. The volume is quite deafening as individuals reconnect, recollect, and rejoice in the excitement of the occasion.
Somehow as the night unfolds, everyone becomes so engaged in the activity they forget all about the “birthday boy.” There is no song, no cake, no card or gifts for him to open – but everyone still has a jovial time.
Another oddity occurs. People actually bring presents to the party – but they are designated for others in attendance. The gifts are opened cheerfully. Each one reflects the great care, thoughtfulness, and sacrifice of the giver and is thoroughly appreciated by the recipient.
To add insult to injury, a few people do finally pause to remember Jesse, after the crowd has dissipated – but it feels almost like an afterthought. They remember to grab his gifts from the car – but Jesse has the distinct feeling that the presents are impersonal and spur-of-the-moment. After all is said and done, Jesse did not even receive anything he really wanted for his birthday.
As the last guest leaves, Jesse turns to his wife with a look of obvious disillusionment. His wife tries to comfort him. “Sorry, Jesse – we all just got carried away. I guess we kind of forgot why we all got together.” Jesse wanders off to bed dejected, almost wishing this day had never happened. It all seemed like a very strange way to say “Happy Birthday.”
This fictitious story does sound curiously familiar. It may reflect the reality of how we say “Happy Birthday” to Jesus all too often. Let’s consider some alternatives and more appropriate ideas about how to observe the birth of Jesus Christ, by looking at a group of Christ-honoring celebrants who got it right.
Gifts Fit for a King
If forced to choose, I would probably select the Magi as my favorite characters in the Christmas story (other than baby Jesus, of course). In a sense, they are the antithesis to our opening story about Jesse and his guests.
These mysterious sages understood a reality that entire societies of the day missed. It was someone’s birthday. The wise men knew it was someone special, evidenced in their words, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” (Matthew 2:2).They later quoted their study of the Old Testament prophet Micah when they described this newborn as “a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.” That passage in Micah 5:2 further states that this Ruler would be one “whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” The Magi knew this was no ordinary child.
When the Magi’s journey ended, they found the “child” in a “house” (which may indicate they arrived months after His birth, perhaps up to two years later). In any case, they did not arrive empty-hearted or empty-handed. Filled with joy, the Magi brought thoughtful and significant gifts, worthy of a King, a Priest, and a Savior. Gold represented royalty. Frankincense was connected to worship. Myrrh was used to embalm the dead. These grown, dignified scholars fell on their faces in the presence of the little boy who was the King of Kings and honored His birthday the right way. In so many ways, these Magi are the model for our best Christmas celebrations.
Filled with joy, the Magi brought thoughtful and significant gifts, worthy of a King, a Priest, and a Savior.
A Fitting Celebration for Christ
With this in mind, let’s not be like those attending the party for Jesse. Let’s emulate the Magi. Here are four recommendations:
1. Remember it is someone’s birthday – Don’t let gift wrapping, jingle bells, Rudolph, Frosty, or Santa and his friends draw you away from the purpose of the celebration. Let’s stay focused with laser precision on the purpose of this Christ mass (the worship of Christ).
2. Remember whose birthday it is – While Christmas is as good a time as any to express your love for friends and family by giving gifts of thoughtful appreciation, let’s focus our best and primary giving on the One whose birthday we celebrate. I often make this challenge: “Give more to the Christ of Christmas than you give in sum total to others. He is worthy of our all.”
Give more to the Christ of Christmas than you give in sum total to others. He is worthy of our all.
3. Remember what He wants for His birthday – We’ve all felt the frustration of not knowing what gift to buy for someone we care about. So what do we give Jesus, the creator and owner of all things? The Bible is clear as to what He wants. He wants our hearts, our worship, and our undivided love.
Our sacrificial giving should also be consistent with the focus of Christ’s affection. The Bible says, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” The church is described as His very “body.” Let your best and biggest gifts to Him be offered to the cause and the people He loves – His church and its mission in this world.
4. Remember to give gifts fitting for a King– If Rosemary and I were invited to the Governor’s Mansion and asked to bring a thoughtful present to the highest ranking official in our state, we would give a lot of care to the selection and presentation of our gift. We always want our thoughtfulness and sacrifice to be worthy of the recipient.
We always want our thoughtfulness and sacrifice to be worthy of the recipient.
This Christmas, let your giving to the Lord be a real act of thoughtful, sacrificial worship. Let your best sacrifice declare, “Happy Birthday, King Jesus! You are worthy!”
As a result, He will be honored on His birthday, just as the celebration demands. You will feel His pleasure with your gift. And, this just might be the best Christmas you’ve ever commemorated as you do it in the right way, for the right reason, and for the right Person.
This just might be the best Christmas you’ve ever commemorated as you do it in the right way, for the right reason, and for the right Person.
Copyright © 2021 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.