Christmas Treasures
Rachel Olsen

"For where your treasure is, there your heart is also." Matthew 6:21 (NIV)

It was 38 degrees when I woke the day after Thanksgiving. Yet, willing to brave chilly temps and frenzied crowds in search of crazy deals, I headed out shopping.

As I walked the aisles past slick gadgets, plush robes, and animated toys, one thought kept coming to my mind: The gifts we long for—the ones we ask for, save for, shop for, and wrap up in shiny paper with bows—will disappoint, eventually. They will age, wear, scratch, stain, fade or break. They may even get lost or stolen. Not long after the shiny newness wears off, the realization sets in that these objects don't provide the lasting happiness we'd hoped they would.

Am I a Christmas scrooge? Not at all! Beneath my tree sits several lovely gifts I look forward to giving my family. And I'm hoping one will appear there for me before Christmas Eve. But this thought, this realistic view of the contents of those packages, helps me keep the material aspects of this holiday in perspective — eternal perspective.

It's so easy to get caught up in the commercial fervor that is Christmas. It's easy to think we must show our love through bought gifts. But often a warm hug and some relaxed hospitality, time spent together on a hobby, or a letter detailing your appreciation would mean so much more than another coffee mug or gift basket. And for those of us facing hard financial times this year, that's welcome news.

If I could give you one fantastic gift today, I'd take your hand and cause us both to travel back in time some 33 years after the birth of Christ. We'd sit together on the hillside and listen to Jesus teach the Sermon on the Mount. We would hear our Savior say, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21, NIV).

Perhaps hearing it from the Savior's lips would help us believe that it's important what we treasure. It's important where our heart is. And to remember that the objects we ask for, give, and receive are temporary, just like the pleasure they bring.

God, however, gives gifts that are eternal. They never age, fade, deteriorate or fail to delight. He gave the gift of love with a baby in a manger. He gave the gift of truth through the teaching of Rabbi Jesus. And He gave the gift of eternal life in the form of the crucified and risen Christ. God gives the best gifts!

I found a few good deals at the mall that early Friday morning, but nothing like the deal I found at a little church almost two decades ago when I met this risen Lord and exchanged my sins for His grace.

In the days of the Bible, times of great joy were frequently accompanied by the giving of gifts (e.g. Nehemiah 8:10; Esther 9:22; Revelation 11:10). This ancient custom, practiced in all nations throughout history, finds its greatest expression today at Christmas. As we participate in gift-giving this year, let's follow God's lead and look for ways to also share love, truth and the path to eternal life with those we care about. Perhaps we can help another to find the greatest gift of all, or to treasure it rightly.

Dear God, thank You for the treasures of Christ, the gift of grace, and the blessings of eternal light and life. Show me opportunities to share them with those around me this month. Help me keep my heart set on You as the only lasting source of delight. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
A Family Advent: Keeping the Savior in the Season

Click here to find the greatest gift – forgiveness and eternal life

For more on this topic, visit Rachel’s blog today

God’s Purpose for Every Woman: A Compilation of Favorite P31 Devotions by various P31 Encouragement for Today authors

Application Steps:
Reflect on this devotion. Then look over your Christmas lists or plans and consider where your heart and treasure is.

Is there something you should mark off your list? Is there something you should add to it?

Where is my treasure? Where is my heart today?

Power Verses:
James 1:17, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (NIV)

Romans 6:23b, "… the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (NASB)

© 2009 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Blogger Sharon Sloan said...

Rachel: Oh the treasure of Jesus - the perfect gift.

God gave me an early and serendipitous Christmas gift last night while putting our daughter to bed. She held me tight and said: "Mommy, every day is Christmas for me...because you and Daddy love me." That was a treasure.

Great devotion. Thanks, Rachel.

Anonymous Ramona said...

Thank you indeed, yes we forget often what Christmas is truly about. The true tresure is Gods love for us through his son Jesus who died for us. What Love & most of all what a Gift to give. Your life...this year with Gods help, I so needly to remind & give my family something so dear this Christmas, "This Story" the greates gift ever. Thank you again.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, we can certainly get caught up in the fuss of this season and forget the reason why we celebrate. Thank you Jesus for leaving your throne in heaven to be born and then die for us. God bless all that read this devotion with a fresh sense of gratitude and praise!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the temporary pleasure of the material things of this earth just highlights the most treasured gift of our Lord Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for us. Giving us eternal life with Him and the MOST satisfying relationship with Him that anyone could ever have.

Anonymous Kathryn Lang said...

I LOVE this picture - thank you so much for giving it to me. My children have never been big on GETTING gifts, but they do love to give them. I love giving gifts as well, but have been trying the last several years to give something that would be loved and used and not tossed into a pile so the next present could be opened.

This year the money situation has been the worst ever (or maybe it just seems that way because we REFUSE to use credit). I have been crushed not to be able to "buy" in order to give.

Your post helped me remember that it really is not about the gifts under the tree.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a good devotional - helped emphasize that the focus should be on the Gift in the manger at Christmas, not the gifts around the tree. However, the verse you pulled from Revelation was taken out of context and is not a good example of gift giving, unless you're suggesting that it's good to celebrate the death of God's two witnesses.

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