This is a strong word for us as Christmastime approaches! Last year I felt sick to my stomach at the materialism my family threw at one another in what was supposed to be celebrating Christmas. We could barely walk around our living room. We were off base, out of focus and covered up in mounds of things that only brought us a temporary fix of happiness. The burden of disposing of all the packaging and trash and clutter these items brought into our lives felt large. It feels just like I massively overate and indulged in gluttony. I wanted to purge but I also knew even that wasn’t the answer!
Already we are covered up in marketing all around us for Black Friday sales! I’ve gotten mail, email, and I see ads all over the internet and television. People will trample one another for a chance to get a thing at a discounted price. We are so clouded by our stuff. Many of us are even derailed from our life’s purpose because we spend the bulk of our time taking care of things that demand our attention. Temptation swirls around me tempting me to repeat last year. How do I stay strong? I know things aren’t love. Do I feel like I have let our family down if I didn’t get that surprise look that comes from the perfect gift? Is there even a perfect gift?
Yes there is! It’s a gift that we only have the capacity to receive! We cannot even give this gift but we can share it. The greatest and most perfect gift comes from God through Jesus: the forgiveness of sin and the restoration and healing this brings. God is reaching down to each and every one of us, extending his hand towards us in great love, yet we stubborn humans still choose to keep our brokenness and sin to ourselves. We neglect what God offers. I’m sure to God, this looks so sad. Christmas is the celebration of Emmanuel, God with us. The spirit behind the giving is God’s greatest gift to us. We give because we have been given to. Our gifts will never measure up to God’s no matter how hard we try.
So how can we take this verse to heart? How can we store up treasures in Heaven? Decide today who we will serve. Who is the center of Christmas? My family, myself or God? Might I suggest we begin to make some changes? How can we together, give back to God? How can we place our treasures in eternity? We have to serve God today. We have to place people before things. We have to live in a deeper obedience to God. I’m not certain all that we consider good works are honored as such by God. Maybe what we think will be a jewel in our crowns or in someone else’s crown won’t be that at all. I know so little.
How will you fight materialism this year? Feel free to comment and share with others so we can all be encouraged to place God first this season. As we express gratitude this week, the week of Thanksgiving, the foundation is laid for a God to be at the center of our gratitude. This can spill over into the Christmas season. Let’s give gifts that are not from this world: forgiveness, gratitude, love, peace, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, and the list goes on and on. In a few weeks I will give a financial gift to a mission agency that exists to share the Gospel message with those I’ll never even meet. Have a blessed holiday season. May we not burden ourselves with unnecessary things but may we choose another path, the road less traveled, and place God at the center. I’m certain those who choose this will be full, content and jolly in ways this world doesn’t understand.