Christmas is four days away. Maybe you forgot. Maybe you're too exhausted to think about it. Maybe you don't care. Maybe you are in a tizzy trying to buy and wrap gifts. Maybe you are counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds in eager anticipation. However you are regarding the quickly approaching holiday, there is no doubt that you will be obliged to buy/make gifts for friends and family, cheerfully celebrate Christmas dinner, and look as grateful as possible as you unwrap every present of yours. It's what's expected. It's the supposed "Christmas Spirit."
As the days have been edging closer, I have found myself feeling very nonchalant about it all. I'm exhausted from the school year thus far, and just too tired to worry about all the excitement that will transpire in just four days. I am too weary to think about gift-giving or gift-receiving. In fact, the more I think about getting gifts, the more weary I feel. The more I think about spending money on worthless toys and products that will add to my huge collection of material possessions, the more I just want to pack up and leave this place of consumerism and greed.
I'm tired of giving gifts only to make the person love us more. I'm tired of wanting things. I'm tired of giving things. I'm tired of seeing our wealth in possessions grow and our savings decrease. I'm tired of thinking about the single pair of shoes my sponsor child will receive, and the dozens of gifts that I will. I am tired of it all. I'm tired of what Christmas has turned into. I thought it wasn't supposed to be about the gifts. I thought it wasn't supposed to be about the food. But no matter how many times that message is told and preached, Christmas continues to revolve around the premise of money, gifts, and feasting.
"Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also."
This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that
only unshakable things will remain.
I feel like the westernized version of Christmas has turned into a holiday filled with the obsession over... 'shakable' things. Things that will be removed and destroyed one day. Things that will not even bring happiness in this present life, but things that are fought over, nonetheless. On the other hand, even though the spirit of generosity is in the air, most will find the cheapest possible gifts for some, but go overboard and spoil others. It becomes about the money- which people are worth more in one's life.
The sad thing is, even though generosity at Christmastime is generally encouraged and has positive connotations, and even though a lot of it is true and genuine generosity from a giving heart, a lot of it is still purely focused on the gift. It's so much about the gifts. The most common lines of the season that we hear everywhere: "I don't know what to get __________ for Christmas," or "I don't know what I want for Christmas." I've said both numerous times already, and it's embarrassing now that I realize that the focus in both those statements is on presents, and nothing more. They both contain Christ's name in them, but it is absolutely ignored in light of the gifts.
Would you care to see how one verse will change your perspective on money and gifts? James 5:3, 5~
Your gold and silver have become worthless. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence AGAINST you on the day of judgment. You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter.
Did you catch that? The treasure we have collected and prized will stand as evidence AGAINST us on the day of judgment! Now, as believers, we don't have to be scared of losing our salvation or being sent to Hell because of our possessions... but that verse does give us a very clear picture of God's view on wealth. It shows us how God sees our earthly treasures that are used for pleasure and nothing worthwhile.
Just as Jesus was from heaven, and living on earth as a passing Ambassador, we should be living as foreigners on a mission in this land. 1 Peter 2:10-12~
Dear friends, I warn you as "temporary residents and foreigners" to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
I wonder, if Christmas was celebrated back in the time of Jesus, or if He lived today, how would he participate? I have a feeling He would not have stressed Himself out over buying certain gifts for his disciples and family members. I don't think He would have worked to impress the others at any Christmas parties or get-together's. He certainly wouldn't have made a wish-list. So why do we?
1 John 2:15-17~
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
At first, I was feeling completely opposed to gift-giving and gift-receiving, and I don't think it was the right attitude. For just as an obsession with presents is wrong, so is the condemning of that tradition. Why? Because whether for or against, the focus is still on the material items. If we are to be people who truly believe in a temporary life on a temporary earth, then the focus should never be on anything temporary! The focus should be on Christ. ALWAYS. And Christ endorses a spirit of giving, and of generosity. He commands us to love.
Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.
The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'
To sum things up, do not withhold generosity, but do not give your your own namesake. When you give, give it in the name of the Lord Jesus. For the gifts that you give in God's name are gifts that you give to God. And any gift that is given truly with God in mind and with the love of Jesus in one's heart will be taken and multiplied. These futile gifts we send to each other and put under our trees are really just a shadow of the gift that started them all. The Messiah. And with the giving of that first gift, the world finally experienced amazing joy. So now, when giving, give with a joyful heart, and give to share the love of Christ. That is the Spirit of Christmas.
This year, let the focus in our wrapping paper and stockings be on the original Giver, and may our attitudes reflect the sacrifice and love that was initiated 2000 years ago. Merry Christmas!