We celebrate Christmas as the occasion of Jesus’ birth, even though we don’t know for sure when He was born. My pastor preached about the true spirit of Christmas—worship—on Sunday night, and I realized that too often I don’t focus on the real reason for the season. I get caught up in the excitement and music and good cheer and gift giving.
Earlier today I was humming “Little Drummer Boy,” and the lyrics were running through my head: “Our finest gifts we bring… to lay before the King… so to honor Him… when we come.”
It made me pause. Many people call Christmas Jesus’ birthday. What gifts can I give to Him this year? Worship, love, devotion, obedience… all of these are good things that He asks of us. But we shouldn’t only focus on them once a year.
He calls us to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [our] reasonable service” (Romans 12:1b).
Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
It’s often easy to give something tangible. I have a pile of presents under the tree for my siblings and parents that I enjoyed buying and wrapping. But what’s not so easy are the abstract things, things that you can’t see or touch: your time, your love, your energy… and those are some of what Jesus asks of us. He desires us to put others’ needs above our own.
The world (and much of the modern “Christian” teaching) tells us to get rid of the things that are toxic for us, to get rid of the people in our life who are holding us back from what we want, to take care of ourselves first, etc., etc. But the Bible says to “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:4).
This is not an easy thing for me to do! Being selfless is the farthest thing from my natural desires. But it’s a way in which I can serve Christ—because by serving others I am serving Him—and it’s something that I want to work on.
Sometimes during Christmas, it’s easy to develop a more selfish mindset. We get focused on the gifts we’re receiving. We wish everyone else would do the boring stuff, like cleaning the kitchen and doing the other mundane, everyday tasks that have to be done to keep the house functioning during the holidays. Maybe sometimes we just need to be available for family activities or need to lend a listening ear to someone. Maybe someone needs a little extra love and we have to be sensitive to their needs.
As we celebrate Christ’s birth tomorrow and then look toward making goals for the New Year, I would love to challenge you to look for ways in which you can be a blessing to others. Sure, it’s not fun sometimes and it’s hard; I won’t sugarcoat it. But you may be surprised at how big of a blessing you get from finding ways to bless others. And when we’re giving of ourselves to others, we’re giving to Jesus.