It is that time of year again. Thanksgiving is now behind us and Christmas is upon us. During this time, there is always talk of giving, helping, sharing and blessing. It is the time of joy and love. Why everyone waits until 10+ months have passed before becoming joyful and loving is beyond me, but we as Christians are called for so much more. We are called to do this each and every day. But, how do we give? How do we share? How are we joyful? How do we love?
12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? 14 Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 20 You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear.21 He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen. 22 Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.
Do we give only because we are attempting to keep the commandments of God? No. We give because our hearts have been changed by God. We don’t do it to earn God’s approval. We don’t do it to earn God’s acceptance. We do this because we already have his approval and acceptance. We do this because we love God. Through that love that we feel we are able to joyfully give to others. The Holy Spirit now dwells in us and we have new desires. Not desires of our old, dead selves. They are desires of our new, living self!
We should take the mindset of this holiday season and apply it to our lives beyond the holiday season. We are each blessed in different ways. It is because we are blessed that we should bless others. I am not saying that we should bless others to earn any favor or to get praise from those around us. I am saying that because our focus is on God that we are blessed. Because our focus is on God we desire to bless others. We desire to help widows, orphans, sojourners, or anyone in need. Don’t horde your blessings. Don’t horde your possessions and money and food. I would remind us that like the Israelites in Egypt, we are still sojourners. What we have in this life is not the reward.
1 Peter 2:9-12
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
We are simply here temporarily. We are sojourners and exiles in this world, waiting on our inheritance in Christ. It is because of Christ that we are able to give and share joyfully. What if that one time you give to someone in need, despite them being an unbeliever, is the time that God reveals Himself to them through you and your “honorable conduct”? At that moment, we can say that because of God’s work in us, another “homeless” soul has been given an eternal home in Heaven!
So, this holiday season I encourage you to do what most of us usually do. Enjoy our family. Donate gifts to children in need. Donate clothing to a single mother or father. Volunteer your time at a homeless shelter to feed the hungry. Drop some change in the Salvation Army bucket when you go in to Walmart. Just don’t stop when the holidays are over. Continue to share the blessings you have. Continue to give joyfully to those in need. Answer the calling that we all have from God, to love others every single day. Instead of always searching for new ways for ourselves to gain more, let us always be searching for new ways to give to others. It is through that giving that we will truly gain more than our hearts and minds could fathom in this life.
Father, let each and every one of us have our hearts filled with love this holiday season. Let us enjoy our families and our gatherings. But I pray that we would use this time as a way to catapult our joy and love in to our daily lives now and always because of the joyful and loving heart that you gave us when you shared your gift of grace with us. I pray that we always remember that this life is just a temporary dwelling for us and not the reward. Amen!