Making a Better Christmas Giving List
Merry Christmas! As you know it’s no secret that Pamela, my family, and I are Christians. While we’d not refer to ourselves as Christian, but believers (a subject for another day), Christmas means a lot to us and for us. This Christmas however, I’m setting out to make those who read this uncomfortable so that next Christmas and all year long we do better as Christian-beleivers. Yes. I said, uncomfortable. Many Christians wear that label as a badge of inclusion, but often we fall short of what it means or the actions that it requires. For this lesson, I want us to focus on Christmas and those around us who should feel the love and get a reminder of what Christmas means, because you and I exist.
You do good so that all who see you can see it [see what?].
You know it would be okay with me if you failed to be good in January, February and so on because those months don’t have the reminder to do good to others like December. Not that you shouldn’t do good all year long, but if you’re not expressing goodness in December at a higher level, there’s something wrong with you. You know what’s wrong? You’re ordinary and lack a plan to be generous during this time in the business you call your life. I would love to spread some cheer, but sometimes in order to get to some cheer, you must identify and remove the cheer-killers.
It’s said of Jesus, The One who Christmas represents, that we should let our good deeds illuminate so that all can see them. 1 What a thought. Do good so that all who see can see it. When we do this particularly at Christmas it gives others an opportunity to understand what Christmas and being a Christian-beleiver is all about.
There are many opportunities to allow such a light to shine that we miss out on because the focus is elsewhere. For example, we give to our favorite charities or to our churches, and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, let me say what is wrong. There are people close to you that you overlook and then we use this as an excuse not to be good to our people because we gave elsewhere. Jesus, for whom we celebrate today, used this language when he addressed the religious people and religious leader of his day. He said to them that they violate God’s commands by refusing to help, honor, and give to their level zero relations (their family, I’ll get to this in a second) by giving God (their church) what they would have given to their family.2 Interesting, isn’t it? In other words, they used the action of being generous to their religious institution as a way out of being generous to their family. As Christian-beleivers, we do have an obligation to give to God. We can’t forget the obligation of giving to God by way of those we can touch in our world and allow our life, light to shine in theirs so that they too can experience the true meaning of the holiday we celebrate.
You light up your world.
Let me move on. I wanted this to be a quick message and give you a few areas to allow your light to shine that we many times overlook. BTW – while it’s fresh on our minds let’s put a plan together so that next Christmas our light becomes much brighter. Let’s do Christmas in an uncommon way. Here are the seven levels of relationships that place specificity to the world you can touch at Christmas time.
Level 0 – Light up your family.
This one is easy. Most of us will give gifts to our family, but what about all your family and not just those in your four walls? Have you given any thoughts or considerations for your family members who don’t have anyone in their lives? Or the family members who’ve experienced losses this year? Yes, we give to other places but right in front of us are the opportunities that God gives us directly. Let your light shine this Christmas in your family.
Level 1 – Light up your neighbors.
Have you considered your neighbors, the people you regularly see throughout the year? You’re a Christian-believer and people should be important to you especially the ones you can touch. Consider your neighbors. Let your light shine this Christmas with your neighbors.
Level 2 – Light up your disciples.
Who in your life do you influence and you know it? Why not send them a gift? Since you influence them, then influence them with your generosity so that they too will do the same. You’re a believer for Christ’s sake. Who else is going to do this? Let your light shine this Christmas with your disciples.
Level 3 – Light up your friends.
I’m pretty positive you can think of at least one friend who could use a thoughtful gift, an expression of the light of Christmas. Choose one if you can’t do them all, but do something. I know you thought being a Christian-beleiver was simpler than this, but now it takes intentionality. And it’s what Jesus wants us to do, enough said. If for no other reason, you call them your friends. Let your light shine this Christmas amongst your friends.
Level 4 – Light up your inner-circle.
I’m going to ease up a little on this relationship level because surely you’re giving an expression of light to those in your inner-circle. It’s hard for me to believe that a Christian-believer at Christmas time wouldn’t be an expression of the light of Jesus in the life of those in their inner circle. Don’t miss this God-given opportunity. Let your light shine this Christmas in your inner-circle.
Level 5 – Light up your closest friend.
Sometimes people can be so close to us that we tend to forget that they too could use a thoughtful act of kindness. Have you overlooked that person who’s so close to you that life wouldn’t be the same without them? Take this opportunity to do good to the only person who understands you like no one else does. Let your light shine in the life of your closest friend.
Level 6 – Light up your equal partner.
For those of us that are married, don’t neglect the one who’s been through the storm and the rain with you. Find a way whether big or small as an expression of Christmas. It doesn’t take much, but it does take something to do a good deed for your partner. Let your light shine for your equal-partner.
Level 7 – Light up your Lord.
You know I was thinking that if you followed His instructions to do good deeds to each of the other seven levels, then I believe you’ve been a light to God this Christmas. What better way to celebrate God than to be Christmas at Christmas. Let your light shine for Jesus!
I hope something in this message did make you uncomfortable because I never again want you to see Christmas the same. It’s always our goal to get you to step away from ordinary thinking to extra-ordinary thinking. This gives an opportunity for you and me to be a light to our world. Let’s start with the seven levels of relationships that we can touch and impact. Let your light shine in your world for Christmas.
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!
Reference #1: Matthew 5:16 NLT, Bible.com, accessed December 21, 2020, https://www.bible.com/116/mat.5.16.nlt
Reference #2: Matthew 15:1-7 NLT, Bible.com, accessed December 21, 2020, https://www.bible.com/116/mat.15.1-7.nlt
All Scripture references used by permission, see our Scripture copyrights. [https://www.kerryaclark.com/scripture-copyrights/]