Did you know that this Christmas, each American is expected to spend almost $1000 on Christmas presents? Just Christmas presents! Not including decorations, food, or transportation. (source)
To me, that seems like a ridiculous amount of money and time spent on things that people will either return, or use for a short time before forgetting about it. Uncle Bob doesn’t need that millionth sweater, and Aunt Barb does not need another set of earrings. Unnecessarily spending and giving around the holidays does not constitute as having a servant’s heart.
Matthew 6:19-20 says Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
So why would we waste our time giving gifts that will be rusted, torn apart and broken when we can be giving people the word of the Lord, granting them eternal life?
So how can we keep Christ in Christmas?
1 | Give Gifts with Meaning
Aunt Barb and Uncle Bob might not need that sweater or earrings, but maybe they could use a night of free babysitting services for their kids, since Aunt Barb told you their marriage was a little on the rocks. When you’re preparing for the holidays, the most important thing you can do is listen.
• Is the person you’re giving to having financial troubles?
• Could they use a shoulder to cry on?
• Are they feeling lonely?
A lot of times we try and show our love by giving material items instead of our time and love. While we think that this has a message of “I love you” attached to it, it usually turns out to be a message of “You’re checked off my list for the year, what’s next?”
This is not the message that Christ wants us to bring is one of love, not one of materialism.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. -1 John 4:7
2 | Spend More Time in Your Community and Less Time Shopping
Instead of shopping on Black Friday or during those hot Christmas deals, spend the day at a nursing home, keeping those without loved ones company this Christmas. Bake cookies for the firefighters, police officers, EMT workers and soldiers. Shovel your neighbor’s driveway. Although these things might seem silly and tedious to you, to the persons on the receiving end, they mean the world.
3 | Remember That Family Comes First
While everyone else is out rushing to get last minute Christmas items checked off their lists, take time for you and your family. Go on a sleigh ride, or go sledding. Read the Night Before Christmas, or the Nativity Story. Spend time watching The 25 Days of Christmas, or playing board games.
There’s no reason we need to become conformed to the world, and making ourselves miserable. Keep your holiday schedule simple and full of meaning by serving others instead of yourself.
How do you plan on serving God this holiday season?