If you grew up attending church, you’ve probably heard and read about the wise men and their gifts countless times. However, as I was ruminating recently on the story of the magi going to meet Jesus, something stood out to me in a new way.
“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 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 2:10-11 NIV).
These three wise men had seen a brilliant star rising, went on an arduous journey, and after meeting the Messiah that had been prophesied, they took two actions. They worshipped Him, and then laid out their gifts for Him.
I want that to sink in: they worshipped Him, and then laid out their gifts for Jesus.
There are moments throughout the Bible when people call on God to perform a miracle, and God’s response is simply, “What do you have?”
When Moses asks God what to do if nobody believes him, God says, “What is in your hand?” and then does incredible miracles using his staff. (See Exodus 4:1-5.)
When the wife cries out to Elisha, saying that her husband died and the creditors are coming to take her boys as slaves, Elisha responds, “Tell me, what do you have in your house?” From the woman’s small jar of oil, God performs a miracle of filling countless jars of oil until she can pay off her debts. (See 2 Kings 4:1-7.)
When the Israelites grumbled against Moses in the desert, God said, “Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes.” Levi’s staff blossomed and produced almonds. (See Numbers 17:1-8.)
When the crowd was hungry, and the disciples asked Jesus where they could get enough bread for them, Jesus asked, “How many loaves do you have?” And from a little boy who brought forth his five loaves and two small fish, Jesus was able to miraculously multiply them and feed a crowd of 5,000. (See Matthew 15:32-39.)
I feel like oftentimes we only see miracles as extraordinary phenomena that God creates out of nothing, but Scripture is trying to remind us of something crucial—when we are yearning and praying for anything, we should first look at what we’re already holding in our hands. God can use your limited resources and talents to do above and beyond what you can dream of.
When my dad first began OneHope, the minister of education of El Salvador asked for nearly one million Bibles to give to every child in the country. My dad knew they did not have enough money to create and print anywhere near a million Bibles that were contextualized and accessible for children, but he said yes nonetheless because he felt God telling him to do it.
After praying for a miracle, my dad began using what he already had: a vision to share. God used that passion and vision to move the hearts of those listening, and in 1987 we shipped nine 40-foot containers full of the first copies of the Scripture-filled Book of Hope to El Salvador.
The wise men didn’t journey all the way to Bethlehem to meet their Messiah and ask for miracles or gifts from Him. They instead worshipped and laid out their own gifts for Him to use exceedingly.
As we get closer to Christmas and our year comes to an end, I pray that our passion and gifts don’t simmer out but that, instead, we give Jesus what we already have and expect in faith that those gifts would increase and be used for the glory and Kingdom of God.
What gifts are you laying out for God to use in this next season?