We have become so conscious of having nothing to offer to earn our salvation (which of course we don’t), that we’ve translated that into “there’s nothing we can give God that will please Him.” That’s utterly false—we’re not saved by good works, but God has prepared for us a lifetime of good works (Eph. 2:8-10), which are our gifts to Him.
God says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” and rewards us for our gifts to Him, as in a cup of water to one of his children, and “in as much as you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it to me.”
When I think of the Magi, gifts in hand to bring to the King of Kings, I think about David saying he won’t give a gift to the Lord that costs him nothing, and about the passages that talk about not coming to the Lord empty-handed. Here’s some from English Standard Version (ESV), worth meditating on, and worth asking, “What gift are you giving Jesus?” The gifts of our love, worship, awe, time spent with Him, being yielded to Him, and being committed to follow Him wherever He leads-these are the gifts He desires us to give.
He’s given us the gift of free will, and will not force him to give us anything (if forced, it wouldn’t be a gift). Every knee will one day bow, but bowing the knee to Him now is what He looks for, what pleases Him, and what He will surely reward.
Here are the verses about not coming to the Lord empty handed:
You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed.
The firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before me empty-handed.
And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed.
Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed.
These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, “You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.”
When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed.
And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed.