top of page

Christmas Gifts: What They Left Behind

Did you ever consider what those in the original Christmas story left behind in order to receive gifts?  

A story from long ago illustrates the importance of giving up what we love in order to gain what is more valuable.  

Early in the last century, when children were not showered with an abundance of possessions, a little girl owned a special pencil. Her wise father decided she was old enough to feel the price of giving up what she loved, to receive something better.

“Carol, come here. Daddy needs you!” Mr. Ernst called from his study.

“Coming, Daddy!” A moment later, a six-year-old child with shining eyes stood in the doorway, holding her favorite pencil.

“Come over here,” her father said. He stood next to the crackling fireplace. “Is that the special pencil we gave you last birthday?”

“Oh, yes, Daddy. I use it every day!”

“I want you to throw it in the fire.”

“Oh, no, Daddy! Not my special pencil!”

“Yes, Carol. Daddy wants you to throw it in the fire.”

Instinctively, the child held the pencil behind her as she backed away from the fireplace.

“Carol, do you love Daddy?”


“Then throw the pencil into the fireplace.”

With quivering lip and tears in her eyes, the child cast away her precious birthday gift. She sobbed quietly as it turned to ashes.

Turning to leave the room, the broken-hearted child heard words that stopped her short.

“Now Carol, come over here and stand beside Daddy’s desk.”

A bewildered child trudged across the room, head down.

“Close your eyes and hold out your hands.”

The next moment a sobbing little girl turned into a dazzled little girl. In her hands lay the most stunning doll she had ever seen. She gasped at its brilliant blue eyes, soft brown hair, and dress that matched her own.

“Daddy! She’s beautiful! How did you know I wanted a doll like this? I didn’t tell you. I know she cost a lot of money.”

“You have learned what some grownups need to know,” replied her wise father.

“Sometimes God in heaven takes from us the things we think we need, so He can give us something better.


It seems an anomaly to give up something just to receive something else. Yet the Bible describes those who willingly left behind what they valued, to receive gifts of greater worth.

The most important, of course, was Jesus. He left the splendors of heaven, forsook beauty and light, and the presence of angels, to purchase the gift of eternal life for the fallen human race. In return, he received pain, poverty, temptation and rejection from those who should have been glad at His arrival. Ah, but He received God’s approval with the words, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Mary gave up a lot when the angel of the Lord announced she would be the mother of the Messiah. When she said, “Be it unto me according to thy word,” she gave up her reputation and future plans. She left behind the security of her family circle but received God’s stunning gift, the Messiah in human form.

Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, gave up job security. Forced to flee to Egypt with Mary and the young Jesus, Joseph never knew when King Herod’s soldiers might lurk around the corner on their bloody campaign to slaughter the one Herod considered his rival. Perhaps Joseph glanced over his shoulder all the way to Egypt, concerned that he knew neither the language nor the customs. Joseph gave up all that was safe and familiar, yet received the unique gift of raising Jesus.

What about the wise men who presented gifts to the Christ-child? Considering scholars estimate that their journey lasted between five months and two years, the magi sacrificed comfort as they wobbled on camelback toward their destination. These magi, or astrologers of their day, left behind an easy life to follow the star that led to the Messiah, In return, they received the privilege of gazing on God’s greatest gift to mankind.

What about the shepherds, first outsiders to witness heaven’s gift? They gave up sleep to hurry to the village of Bethlehem. They risked leaving their flocks in the care of someone else. Yet in return, those humble men received the privilege of being first witnesses to God’s redemptive plan in human form.


Amid the gaiety and celebrations this Christmas, is there something we cherish enough to give up for the Christ-child? Join the conversation below to share your thoughts.

Bình luận

bottom of page