The Gift is Not for You

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

Every nativity scene includes shepherds and wise men, but Matthew 2:11 rewrites this Christmas pageant script. Luke shares the shepherds’ perspective as the angels proclaim, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14). The shepherds ran to Bethlehem and “found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger” (Luke 2:16).

Many people have heard the Christmas story all their lives and have missed this detail: The Magi arrived perhaps two years later. Notice: (a) they came to a house, (b) Jesus is called a child, and (c) King Herod reacted by putting to death all the male children in Bethlehem who were two years old and younger (Matt. 2:16-18).

When the Magi came to the house, “they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasure and presented him with gifts” (Matt. 2:11). This may sound obvious, but the gifts weren’t for Mary and Joseph, they were for Jesus. But a two-year-old doesn’t understand gold, frankincense, and myrrh so Mary and Joseph became stewards of these gifts. Likewise, the gifts your donors generously give are not intended for you or your ministry; they are for Jesus. We can draw applications from these gifts.

Gold. The inside walls of the temple were completely overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:20-22). John reveals that the streets of heaven are made of pure gold (Rev. 21:21). As fundraisers you ask your donors for gold, but you are ultimately asking them to lay up their treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21).

Frankincense. The priests mixed a special blend of fragrant spices including pure frankincense to use exclusively in temple worship (Ex. 30:34). In heaven an angel “was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel” (Rev. 8:3-4). Ask your ministry partners for their special gift of prayer.

Myrrh. This gift pictures Jesus’ death. Myrrh was a key ingredient in the mixture of spices that were used to prepare bodies for burial (John 19:39-40). Invite your donors to offer “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:18) by remembering your ministry in their estate plans.

Mary and Joseph were faithful stewards of the treasures the Magi gave Jesus. You are called to be a faithful steward of the gifts your ministry receives. These gifts pale in comparison to the indescribable gift God gave to us in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 9:15)!

Response: Father, thank you that every gift our ministry receives is a good and perfect gift from you (James 1:17). Help me to be a faithful steward.

Think About This: Who are the wise men in your circle of influence that you could ask for gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh?

Have a Spirit-led fundraising week,


Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored two books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising and Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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