A beggar in India stood along the roadside, begging for rice to prepare his evening meal. When he gathered almost a handful, he turned toward home to prepare his meager meal. A noise stopped him mid-step. Another caravan approached.
The beggar ran to the caravan and cried, “Have pity. Alms, alms.”
The caravan stopped, and a prince stepped out. He approached the beggar and asked, “What will you give me in exchange for alms?”
The beggar opened his hand wide enough to pull out three grains of rice. He handed them to the prince. Then, the beggar clutched what remained of his rice to his breast and extended his other hand to the prince, palm opened.
The prince placed three items into the beggar’s hand. He closed the beggar’s fingers over the alms, rejoined his caravan and proceeded on his journey.
As the beggar watched the caravan travel down the road, he looked at his closed hand with the alms and sighed. “Three grains of rice in return?” Slowly, the beggar opened his hand. In his palm rested three gold coins.
The beggar cried, “Oh, if I had only given my all, I would be a wealthy man today.”
Sometimes I am that beggar. Holding back and holding on to gifts I received out of fear of loss, self-centeredness or distraction with other priorities. The Christmas season reminds me of the lesson of the three wise men who found Jesus lying in a manger. Though resting among sheep and cattle, they recognized him as Savior. And they honored him with rare and precious gifts, the best they could offer.
Professor and preacher Ellsworth Kalas (Christmas from the Backside) challenged me to consider a different perspective about my gifts. “I surely don’t mean to make a case for irrational conduct,” he wrote. “Nor do I recommend flying in the face of reason. As it happens, I’m generally a quite conservative person [me,too]… The three wise men…make me wish I were wiser. Wise the way the wise men were.”
Wise enough always to give my best gift … my all.
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 and of incense and of myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11, NIV)
©2011 Gloria Ashby. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail.