|Encourage One Another - I Thess. 5:11|
I tell you I'm just about over it all. Not the giving part. I love to give, but trying to pick that perfect present is nearly impossible. After all, I'm no mind reader and most of the people that I do give a gift to, already have everything they need. Isn't that a blessing?
A few years back my husband and I declared a moratorium on Christmas gifts from our children and grandchildren. In fact, the only ones who receive Christmas gifts in the family are those under the age of 12 years. Teens would rather have money and any more I'd rather give it. Sure beats getting my feelings hurt after finding out they never wore that sweater or other article of clothing I thought was so cute and fashionable!
These days instead of risking my life and limbs fighting traffic and mall rage. I'm keeping my list very, very short for material things and adding to it for spiritual things! Taking a tip from the talk shows, I'm giving everyone in my audience of family, friends, and acquaintances MY FAVORITE THINGS! And guess what...they're all free:
- Friendship - There are approximately 7 billion people in the world. I don't know how many are lonely but probably more than you think. True friendship is a powerful gift to give and you don't have to go far. Your grouchy neighbor, the cleaning woman who looks sad all the time; or the rude cashier are prime candidates. A smile, a handshake of appreciation, or a simple Merry Christmas will do. Maybe an invite to church. All can become gifts of friendship. Just the fact that you noticed them could make their day! (Prov. 17:17; Prov. 18:24; Matt. 25:40)
- Reconnecting - All of us have relationships that we've let go fallow (uncultivated). Nobody got mad, no misunderstanding, you just for some reason lost touch with one another. Christmas is a good time to go through your contact list, call, text, or email just to say hello; I miss you; let's get together soon. Hearing from an old friend can be more precious than the most expensive gift. (Ephes 4:32a; Gal. 6:10)
- Encouragement - Suicides increase this time of year; folks go in debt trying to outdo each other with elaborate parties and decor; grief seems especially heavy and guilt and depression because you can't fulfill the wish list of loved ones sucks all the joy out of life. How about spending a little time telling your family or friends how much they mean to you. Instead of a Christmas card (that's expected). Surprise someone with a note of thanks for something they've done for you that they've long forgotten. (Heb. 10:24-25; 2 Cor 13:11)
- Eternal Life - Sadly, recent events are proving that people desperately need Jesus! You of course can't save anyone...we know that. But you can give lost souls an opportunity to accept Christ for themselves. Hearts are especially open during the Christmas season when generosity tends to be at its peak. Folks are just in a giving mood. Instead of throwing a few coins in the red bucket of bell ringers everywhere, why not spend a few hours visiting homeless shelters, nursing homes, or serving on food lines. As you give of your time you'll hear many thank you's. Turn those into an opportunity to explain why you're there--because of the love of Christ who also loves them. Why not make the real meaning of Christmas a topic of conversation everywhere you go. (John 3:16; (Rom. 5:8; John 3:36; John 1:12)
Okay, this is the end of my Christmas list. Check back next week for some help with S.A.D. and I don't mean (Seasonal Affective Disorders)!!