In fifth grade the teacher announced that we would be drawing names for a Christmas gift swap. The class was so excited, but when we began to draw names, kids started to get a little nervous about who would draw their name. You see, there was one girl in the class (we will call her Bobbi) that was very poor. If she drew your name, then you either wouldn’t get a gift, or you were sure to get something really lousy.
Bobbi drew my name. My classmates were sympathetic towards me because I would be the only one in the class who wouldn’t get a good gift. I couldn’t help but feel bad for Bobbi. I was hoping that she would just save herself from the embarrassment and be absent the day of the gift swap. But on the day of our class gift swap, Bobbi was there in her usual shabby, mismatched smelly clothing, filthy shoes that were too big and matted hair.
I was uncomfortable when the teacher announced we would open our gifts one at a time. That made it so much worse. Now all the kids would see me open Bobbi’s gift. My turn came and Bobbi handed me a small, beautifully wrapped package. Slowly, I opened it hoping that it would not bring Bobbi more disparaging looks and comments than she already lived with.
It was a jewelry box. I opened the lid to reveal a beautiful gold chain with a pretty pendant on it! Bobbi gave me the most beautiful and costly gift of anyone else in the class. I was astonished…everyone was astonished. Some speculated on how she got it, but most were envious. Bobbi smiled the rest of the day every time a classmate came up to me to admire my new necklace.
No one ever expected Bobbi would have given a gift of value. No one ever expected a poor little baby born in a manger would have given the most valuable gift of all. The Message Bible says it like this, “The servant grew up before God – a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum.” Isaiah 53:2.
This was the prophesy of Jesus Christ. He was a Bobbi. And because he was thought of much like Bobbi was in 5th grade, surely he had nothing of value to give anyone. Many did not believe Jesus’ message because he was considered a nobody. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” John 1:45. But it turned out, he had the most valuable gift of all to give. The gift of true love for mankind, redemption.
When we pay attention to scripture one theme stands out. God more often uses the poor, the unattractive, the unpopular and the underdog to accomplish big things for the Kingdom of Heaven. He did the same thing with his Son to show that the world’s standards are not His standards. He does not need wealth, popularity or education to deliver goodness and mercy to a lost and dying world.
As we head into the Christmas season, pay attention to those who bring the best gifts heaven has to offer. Most likely, it will not be the one with the most expensive gift. Perhaps it will be the joy a child brings to your Christmas or the person in the soup line who offers a kind word. Or just maybe it will be a smile like Bobbi wore for the first time that I will never forget.