Dear Rev. Graham: Where did the idea of giving gifts at Christmas come from? I enjoy Christmas and don’t want to change anything, but one of my grandchildren asked me this recently and I didn’t know what to say.
Dear reader: The first Christmas gifts actually were given shortly after Jesus’ birth, when a group of wise men from another country sought out the young child and His family. When they found Him, the Bible says, "they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh" (Matthew 2:11).
Since then, people have often given each other gifts to celebrate the joy of Christ’s coming into the world. We don’t give gifts or offerings directly to Him, however, the way we might give a gift to someone on their birthday — for we don’t need to try to win His favor or buy His friendship. Instead, we give gifts to others to let them know we love them and value their friendship. Hopefully, our gifts will also remind them of that first Christmas.
Most of all, as we give gifts at Christmas, we should remember the greatest gift of all — the gift that God gave us by sending His Son into the world. We are separated from God because of our sin — but God sent His Son into the world to take away our sins and offer us the gift of His salvation. We don’t deserve it — but God in His love offers it to us anyway.
Like any other gift, however, it must be received. By faith reach out and receive the gift of Jesus Christ into your life today. Then you’ll be able to say, "Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15).