Three Kings Day
Have you ever heard of Three Kings Day? This year, I wanted to pause and share some meaningful things I’ve learned over the years about the gifts of the Magi and their symbolic meanings. I thought this would be a great time as we celebrate Three Kings Day (even if it’s a totally new idea), start a new year (we are only a few days in), and think about training our child’s heart in faith to think with intention on what we will offer as our gift to God in this coming year. How will we effectively teach our children to give to the King? How will we model giving to God? I’ve heard a couple of interesting meanings of the gifts that the kings brought the Christ child, and I would love to share a meaningful one with you. Maybe you will feel inspired to be more intentional this year as you parent your children in their faith.
Not a Newborn
It is kind of a nativity myth that the Three Kings came to see the new born baby Jesus. It makes our stable scene complete to surround with shepherds on one side and kings on the other. However, the true story is that the kings probably didn’t make their appearance until baby Jesus was closer to 18 months old. I have often pictured this change in the story with some intrigue and humor. After all, think of Christmas with your child at this age. They are rarely captivated by the gift and respond with total adoration to the item your mother in law may have chosen with great care. Instead, they look at the box, enjoy the box more than the gift, act a bit distracted or disappointed if it is not a toy, or just fail to take appropriate notice as they are too busy messing around and getting into things. Imagine Mary trying to get the busy toddler Jesus to slow down and appreciate the gold, frankincense, and myrrh being offered. While she surely understood the value and prestige of such gifts, I’m thinking that Jesus may not have!
What About These Gifts
Anyway, just a lighter look through the eyes of a mom on that significant moment in the Christmas story. Now, onto the meaning of these gifts! The Bible simply tells of the kings coming and bringing gold, frankincense, and myrrh There are some different theories on the gifts of the kings. Some believe that the items brought were simply gifts that were historically given to any king born in that time, and that the kings did not give them with any symbolism attached or intended. Some people feel that there are lines drawn from the prophecy of the Christ child’s birth and life to the meanings of the different gifts. While I have never claimed to be a theologian, I still think that thinking through the significance, whether established later or intended at the time is quite fascinating.
Let’s take a moment to consider some of these meanings.
A metal closely associated with spiritual, heavenly or divine love. It is an article that keeps its enduring value. Its use was significant in the sacred articles of the Tabernacle and Holy City. It may symbolize the eternal and valuable spiritual love we are to offer God.
An aromatic oil that has been used for sacred oils and perfumes for years. Those using essential oils today know that it is considered the king of all oils. This sacred incense was significant in placement to the ark of the covenant, as well as offerings. The word used for this sacred incense or “air” in the original Bible times related to the spiritual truth or teachings of Christ.
Like frankincense, this aromatic resin has been used for sacred oils, perfumes, and even medicinal purposes. It had significant meaning in the anointing of sacred items as well as those in service to God.
Using this information, we could understand the symbolism to bring together the idea that the gifts of the three kings were a gift of spiritual love we are to offer Jesus (gold), gifts of our devotion to the spiritual truths and teachings of Christ (frankincense), and gifts of our willingness to serve and live according to the truth Jesus teaches (myrrh).
I especially like the way one Bible teacher, Lee Woofenden1, summed it up. As the wise men, we can give:
- “the gift of gold=offering the love in our hearts to Jesus
- the gift of frankincense =offering the truth in our minds to Jesus
- the gift of myrrh = offering the service of our hands to Jesus”
Truly, whether the meaning of these gifts was originally intended or just seemed to fall together with neat symbolism and differing human perspectives after the fact doesn’t matter to me. I find this a fascinating way to look at the way we give in the modern day to God. And personally, it challenges me to consider some new perspectives or choices. Maybe I can encourage you to do the same.
How To Give
As a parent, this strikes us at two different levels. The first level is to figure out how we might give to God. What areas of our life are we able to offer ourselves to God whether in devoted love or worship, in growing in our knowledge of Him and sharing that with others, or giving and serving.
One might ask the following questions of themselves:
- What do I do well?
- How might I use that skill to help bring others to Jesus?
- What comes easy for me?
- Is there a way that I might honor God in using that skill?
- Is there is skill or talent I have that might be a way to worship or praise God?
- What would it take to give God more time this year?
- In what ways might I consider serving to bring God honor or glory?
- Is there a way I might help others grow in their knowledge of Him this year?
- How could I make God the priority this year?
- How might I choose to give God a devoted love this coming year?
- What resource has God given me that I might be able to use to bring glory to Him?
- In what ways could I grow in learning about God this year?
- What would it take to increase my knowledge of God’s truths this year?
- What would it look like to give Him a totally devoted heart?
- Is there a way our family might give and serve this year that would bring God glory?
It’s All in the Heart
Second, as a parent, we might consider how we relate the story of the Three Kings to our children. Just as the kings brought him a gift, we too can give God gifts. God loves gifts that come from a loving and devoted heart. He doesn’t care about the amount, but rather the heart that it is given with. Just as the woman in the Bible that gave all she had, but it was only a meager amount…God simply loves the cheerful giver.
These might be questions to ask your child:
- What do you do really well?
- How might you do that to please God?
- Is there anything that you do that makes God happy?
- How can you do more of that this year?
- How can you learn more about Jesus this year?
- How can you give Jesus the gift of your time?
- How can you grow in loving Jesus?
- How does giving and serving others make God happy?
- How can you do more of that this year?
- What would be your best gift to give God?
I challenge you to think about how you might search your heart, think through your talents and gifts, and decide how you might do things differently this year. I also encourage you to help lead and guide your child to think of ways that they might understand their giving of themselves to God.
Be sure to check out the free additional resource to get a checklist and downloadable copy of these and other tips. Follow this link to get your free resources.
And don’t forget about that free parenting planner! You might truly enjoy the ideas listed for each month. And there is a particular area devoted to giving and serving! So you might find those ideas helpful!
For those wanting the expanded 72-page Parenting Journal Planner, you can find that here at this link! I’d love to help you walk the journey of new perspectives and new beginnings this year!
Let’s do this!
P.S. just for fun, here is a video to enjoy: