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Jesus’s Parents Gave Cheap “Christmas” Gifts

If your Christmas budget is tight, take heart, you’re in good company. Jesus’s parents were flat broke during the first Christmas. Luke gave us this clue in the following passage:

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought [Jesus] up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons” (Luke 2:24-38 ESV).

A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons being offered indicates that Joseph and Mary were poor, or of modest means; at the very least they were not among the more well-to-do who could afford to offer a lamb. Leviticus 12:8 clues us into their economic situation: “And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.”

For better or worse, Christmas has become a holiday where we spend a lot of time focusing on what we wish we had, or what we wish we could give. Mary and Joseph, and the Scriptures above, teach us that we’re called to live within our means, to give out of our present financial capacity, and to believe that God is most pleased when we do this with joy, rather than focusing on what we wish we could give.

Be good to yourself this Christmas season, and find peace knowing that Jesus in our midst is the greatest gift, rather than feeling guilty for what you wish you could give. Resist the opportunity to stretch yourself beyond your means and run up bills you’ll later regret. Follow the principle above and do what you can with what you have, and find God in the midst of that.

Tommy Brown

Tommy Brown is a writer, speaker, and develops strategies that support financial development. He and his wife Elizabeth live in Winston-Salem, NC along with their children Seri and Seth. He served in leadership at two churches as an ordained minister from 2001-2014, leading congregations into financial wellbeing and a holistic approach to integrating faith and finances. Tommy has a B.A. in Pastoral Ministry and Masters degrees in Divinity and Management. His entrepreneurial endeavors over the years have extended into real estate development and church consulting on stewardship matters. Now, Thomas works alongside an award-winning team of storytellers at Wake Forest University, performing strategic planning and project development for initiatives that fund the university¹s $1,000,000,000 capital campaign. Thomas was instrumental in forming Wake Forest University's financial wellbeing initiative. He has a heart for seeing churches, students, and people of faith form connections between faith and finances.

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