It's hard being poor. Yet too often ministry support leaves no money for extras. It's especially hard being poor at Christmas because that's when the extras demand to be bought. But then the Lord Jesus Christ knows all about that. He was poor at Christmas, too.
And once Jesus left His poor home in the poor village town of Nazareth, He grew up and lived poor. At one point He said, "Foxes and holes, birds have nests, but the Son of God has nowhere to lay His head." In the wilderness Satan had tempted Him to use His God-given powers to meet His own very legitimate needs. Seeing His heavenly Father had chosen not to supply Him with those legitimate needs at that particular time, Jesus chose to do without and stay without.
Jesus went through many a holiday poor as a church mouse. He never had money for presents! He knows how that feels and yet He came as a poor man to make many rich, and we can have that focus and mind set this season, too, if we so choose. He came to give us a gift, not to receive one: the gift of Himself.
Think of it. The greatest thing we have to give to anyone is ourselves. Our love, our attention, an hour of prayer, a listening ear, a spiritual blessing. These gifts can make those we love rich beyond their wildest dreams and cannot be measured in dollars and cents.
Years ago as Christmas approached, our daughter and I sat down to figure out the family gift list. I don't know why it was usually left up to us to decide who gave what to whom, but that's how it was in our family. We came to the conclusion that none of us had everything we wanted, but all of us had everything we needed. The one thing we were all short on was time with each other. That year we decided to try an experiment and give each other time not things. This necessitated being creative—brainstorming, and asking God for good ideas.
"Maybe the boys would enjoy tickets to the basketball game together," Judy suggested. "Perhaps you and I could go to a pretty Victorian tea shop and have English tea and a good talk together," I proposed.
Not all things we came up with cost money either. Judy gave her Dad and herself a run in a charity race—something they had to train for and therefore spend precious moments with each other. One way or another that Christmas we managed to give each other the priceless gift of time.
After all, Jesus came that first Christmas night to give us His time-30 years of it to be precise. What a gift. I'm so glad He didn't bring earthly gifts with Him. Those are things that would only last a short time—treasures that moth and rust would undoubtedly corrupt, and where thieves could break through and steal.
This Christmas we may be poor as this world counts riches, but in giving ourselves to each other without reservation, as Jesus did that first Christmas night, we can all know wealth beyond anything this poor world might have to offer!