Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What Christmas means. . . . .

I subscribe to a e-letter from Proverbs 31 ministry. Today's was something that I was just thinking about, how we "over do" Christmas. Christmas is about love, family, genuine caring that doesn't have to come in a box.

As my kids get older, it is so easy to see how caught up we can get in trying to keep up with the Jones', by getting them the latest and greatest gadget. And I hate to say it but the more they get, the less grateful some of them become. When we were growing up, there were 4 of us kids, and my mom didn't work so that she could be at home with us. So we did good to get a few things per child. But we didn't care, we never knew that we got any less than any one else. We had each other and a whole lot of love. That's what God wants for us, love, relationships, and genuine caring for him and each other.

I hope it means as much to you as it does to me.

"For where your treasure is, there your heart is also." Matthew 6:21 (NIV)

It was 38 degrees when I woke the day after Thanksgiving. Yet, willing to brave chilly temps and frenzied crowds in search of crazy deals, I headed out shopping.

As I walked the aisles past slick gadgets, plush robes, and animated toys, one thought kept coming to my mind: The gifts we long for—the ones we ask for, save for, shop for, and wrap up in shiny paper with bows—will disappoint, eventually. They will age, wear, scratch, stain, fade or break. They may even get lost or stolen. Not long after the shiny newness wears off, the realization sets in that these objects don't provide the lasting happiness we'd hoped they would.

Am I a Christmas scrooge? Not at all! Beneath my tree sits several lovely gifts I look forward to giving my family. And I'm hoping one will appear there for me before Christmas Eve. But this thought, this realistic view of the contents of those packages, helps me keep the material aspects of this holiday in perspective — eternal perspective.

It's so easy to get caught up in the commercial fervor that is Christmas. It's easy to think we must show our love through bought gifts. But often a warm hug and some relaxed hospitality, time spent together on a hobby, or a letter detailing your appreciation would mean so much more than another coffee mug or gift basket. And for those of us facing hard financial times this year, that's welcome news.

If I could give you one fantastic gift today, I'd take your hand and cause us both to travel back in time some 33 years after the birth of Christ. We'd sit together on the hillside and listen to Jesus teach the Sermon on the Mount. We would hear our Savior say , "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21, NIV).

Perhaps hearing it from the Savior's lips would help us believe that it's important what we treasure. It's important where our heart is. And to remember that the objects we ask for, give, and receive are temporary, just like the pleasure they bring.

God, however, gives gifts that are eternal. They never age, fade, deteriorate or fail to delight. He gave the gift of love with a baby in a manger. He gave the gift of truth through the teaching of Rabbi Jesus. And He gave the gift of eternal life in the form of the crucified and risen Christ. God gives the best gifts!

I found a few good deals at the mall that early Friday morning, but no thing like the deal I found at a little church almost two decades ago when I met this risen Lord and exchanged my sins for His grace.

In the days of the Bible, times of great joy were frequently accompanied by the giving of gifts (e.g. Nehemiah 8:10; Esther 9:22; Revelation 11:10). This ancient custom, practiced in all nations throughout history, finds its greatest expression today at Christmas. As we participate in gift-giving this year, let's follow God's lead and look for ways to also share love, truth and the path to eternal life with those we care about. Perhaps we can help another to find the greatest gift of all, or to treasure it rightly.

*This came from Proverbs 31 Ministries daily devotions.

1 comment:

  1. SO VERY TRUE. I will give you a hug instead of a gift this year!