Some say this is the season of joy and happiness. I would assume that it is because it is a time to RECEIVE and give gifts to others (I am speaking from a secular point of view right now). This supposedly gives us joy. So many of us go out and spend money we don’t have to give gifts to people that a lot of the time really do not need anything, but in this joyous season we don’t think of that. We are conditioned that is the way it is and as many of us are robots. We follow directions given to us by our culture, TV advertisements, and past traditions. We also spend extra time having/going to parties, celebrations, spending extra time with family and friends. Are we sliding into a culture of “self” and only considering what we want and want to do?
But, for some this is a time of year that is a disaster mentally. What happens to them? It can be a time filled with sadness, loneliness, anxiety, and negative reflection especially if one doesn’t have a passel of friends. a family and parties to attend. The holidays can smother a person with extra stress, demands, financial burdens, and activities they just can’t mentally, financially and socially handle. Others are struggling with life-altering situations in their lives and don’t want or care to have anything to do with fun, parties and gifts. The tragic loss of their child or family member, or other heart-breaking circumstance makes it impossible to find joy and comfort at this time. Do many of us truly try to comfort them in their time of need or just give a limited amount of our time and compassion? If you know people in these circumstances, you could make a change in their lives, but will you? Do you have the time?
As Christ-followers we are even more responsible for our actions/inactions than secular people are. We claim to know and accept Jesus. We study His Word and know what He expects of us. And we say we will be obedient to His word and teachings. But do we?
I will ask this question to believers. Are we into “self” or are we into Jesus? Our actions and our lives will answer that question.
From what I understand, the supreme goal of Hinduism, Buddhism, and other Eastern mysticism is self-realization, i.e., to realize one’s ultimate destiny, which is godhood. Whereas Jesus is about loving God and loving others as yourself.
Scripture tells us we will not find our joy, fulfillment and purpose in gifts, parties, social gatherings, and what others think about us. It is not sinful to want to experience joy and happiness (Ecclesiastes 3:4 states there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”) but we are not to strive for it as a means to satisfy “self.”
Scripture does states that it is better to give than receive (Acts 20:35) however, giving gifts to those that don’t need them to obtain joy is as hollow an act as a doctor treating healthy people (Mark 2:17). Jesus visited the sick, fed the hungry and loved the unlovable. How often do you visit the sick, spent time volunteering in your community, do you personally feed the hungry or personally served alongside a missionary with one of their projects? In other words, when was the last time you personally spent time, energy and effort serving the Lord (if you are physically able) instead of just sending money or giving gifts? I am not saying that we need to stop financial donations to worthy organizations or people, just suggesting we add service as part of our tithing to the Lord and not just at Christmas. I know many missionaries and small mission organizations that are struggling financially who sacrifice their lives to serve the Lord. I also know many Christians that are wealthy but lavish gifts on themselves and their family (who already have more than they need) while barely thinking about and offering support to Gods’ true servants. With all the multi-millionaire preachers and wealthy Christians that are out there, there should not be one true mission project or missionary that is in financial need in order to do what they are called to do! As a Christian, I am embarrassed to see this discrepancy and needs that go unfilled.
Many say they have joy and happiness when they see the smiling faces of their friends and family when they open the gifts received from them. Is it true joy and happiness or is it excitement they feel?
I am not saying abandon the Christmas spirit but I am saying to keep it in perspective. From what I read in scripture there is no command or recommendation to celebrate Jesus’ birth, to give each other gifts, nor to throw parties. Reality is that the Christmas celebration was started to counteract pagan celebrations that were held in the winter months. From there, and with the help of advertisers in modern times, it morphed into what we have today that seems to have little to do with Jesus and a lot to do with spending money and having fun. As Ecclesiastes states, there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” but as usual God wants us to keep it to His perspective.
Personally this season and all year long , I want to spend quality time with friends and relatives instead of going to parties for the fun of it: consider and pray for those that are struggling and help if I am able; serve those in need along with making financial contributions; and be intentional about making Jesus’ birth the focal point of this season instead of all that Hollywood, advertisers, and our culture has turned it into.
There could be great rewards awaiting us if we would:
*Go out and physically serve people in need in your community.
*Cut back on spending so much money on gifts for people and instead, give them your time, attention and love.
*Find a missionary or small mission organization that has given their life to serve the Lord and send them a financial gift.
*Whatever you do, don’t be in a hurry or become frustrated when things don’t turn out to be perfect, as you wanted them to be.
*And most importantly, remember we are celebrating Jesus’ birthday and act accordingly.