When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. - Matthew 2:10-11 NKJV.
Psychologists have found evidence in their studies that “altruistic” acts boost happiness in those who give. Looking up altruism in my dictionary I found that it means, “regard for or devotion to the interests of others.” Interesting in that this is what the Bible tells us we should be doing. In Philippians 2:3-4 we are told, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
The wise men gave us an example of how to give. First, they gave more than they expected to receive. They were giving to a child whose family was poor in material goods and there was no way the child or family could give anything in return. The wise men also gave out of love. There was no obligation on their part to give expensive gifts to a child in a far away land. The wise men through their gifts gave an indication as to the value with which they believed the child’s life to be worth. They gave the gift of gold, which was a gift for a king. They gave the gift of incense, which was the gift for a priest. They gave the gift of myrrh, which was a gift for someone who was to die. Their gifts were prophetic in that Jesus would be the King of Kings, and the great High Priest, and He came to die for our sins.
God Himself gave a gift that said that we meant something to Him. Of course, that’s why we give gifts at Christmas time because God has given the greatest gift of all, and we are to follow His example. No greater gift can be given than that of our Lord Jesus, who came down from the glories of Heaven, and while we were still His enemies (Romans 5:8) He suffered and died for us that we might have a Savior.
As we follow our Lord’s example looking to the interests of others and give, we will find that happiness will result. John Bunyan in "Pilgrim’s Progress” says, “He who bestows his goods upon the poor, shall have as much again, and ten times more.” Henry Ward Beecher said, "There never was a person who did anything worth doing, who did not receive more than he gave.”
Saint Francis of Assisi prayed a prayer, which indicates the heart of an altruistic person:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair. Hope.
Where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
I pray that your hearts and lives may be blessed and filled with great joy during this Christmas season!