One time a woman from my church told me that you’re supposed to give a special offering to God on your birthday.
I was not having that. What do you mean? I’m supposed to receive more money on my birthday, not give more money!
Maybe her calling it a requirement was a little much, but the sentiment is a good one. We do special things on special days for our friends, our families, and ourselves, but what about for God?
The Israelites were used to special days with God. Reading through this part of the Bible it seems like every other day was a special holiday to the Lord.
But in Deuteronomy 26, God through Moses is telling His people to commemorate not a special day, but a special event – finally arriving in the Promised Land.
To express their gratitude, the Israelites would give God a present – their firstfruits; aka, the first fruits and/or veggies they would grow in their new home. As they presented it to Him, they got nostalgic, remembering every sweet and loving thing He had done from them – from the moment He rescued them from slavery until now.
It must have been nice.
Nowadays, without any firstfruits, what’s a girl or guy to do if they want to give God a present?
This chapter of the Bible has some good ideas if you’re looking for the perfect gift for Jesus. A firstfruits offering wasn’t the only way the Israelites showed God how grateful they were for bringing them out of slavery to a beautiful new home.
They also helped people. They helped people who didn’t look like them, people who didn’t like them, people who were oppressed, and people who had been born into difficult situations (verse 13).
Another act of gratitude was obedience. They listened to God’s law – really listened – and did what He said (verse 13).
Finally, the Israelites showed their love by worshiping God. They respected as holy what He said was holy (verse 14). They spent special time with Him. They used poetry and song to tell Him how they felt about Him.
Helping others. Obedience. Worship. It’s definitely an unusual Christmas list, but that’s because we serve a supernaturally amazing God.
He created us. He loves us. He wants to see us love our neighbors as ourselves. He wants to see us make the right decisions, decisions that will give us peace and assurance and happiness. But most of all, He just wants to see you. He just wants to spend time with you.
“I want to get close to you.”
The fun thing about getting a gift for God is that we are always also getting a gift for ourselves.
As we serve God, obey God, and worship God, we become better people. We get less selfish. We overcome old sins and break the cycle of addiction.
But even if it weren’t for all of these benefits, it just makes sense to do something special for God.
Verses 17-18 make it clear because they DTR – they define the relationship between us and God so clearly. “You have declared that the Lord is your God…the Lord has declared that you are His people”.
He is mine. I am His. When two beings are so close, so intimately connected that it is as if they belong to each other, their relationship isn’t dry.
They don’t speak every now and then, they talk every day.
They don’t consistently choose other people and things instead of each other; they love hanging out with each other.
If we really want to be God’s people, that should be our vibe too.
This Christmas, instead of focusing only on expensive earthly presents, let’s pick out something nice, something sparkly and new and beautiful for our heavenly Father.
Like a song. Or a witness to another person. Or time. Or simple praise. Or even firstfruits!
Whatever it is, however you choose to go about it, remember that Christmas is about how much Jesus loves you. So love Him back.
What do you think? What present can you give Jesus?