I like Christmas shopping. I love finding the perfect gift. It’s something that brings me joy. One of my favorite things to buy is the presents for the kids. And my go to for all of the kids is clothing.
That is the one place I’ll go to on Black Friday. The children’s clothing store to shop.
And I did it this year too. I dropped my kids off at my parents house, before grabbing a gingerbread latte, and going out to find the cute outfits for the kids in the family.
But this year, the excitement and joy I usually feel in getting these gifts wasn’t there. I felt rushed. I wasn’t finding what I liked in the right sizes. And if I was honest, I just wasn’t finding much of what I liked at all, even in the wrong sizes.
On top of that, I had about a million things I had to do that weekend (one thing had a strict December 2nd deadline), and shopping shouldn’t have been on my to do list.
I wanted to feel the joy that is usually there. But it just wasn’t. And I had a little fear that this lack of joy would be present the entire Christmas season… and I knew why this was happening.
I know that this was happening because my focus wasn’t in the right place. My perspective was off.
How do we get our joy back?
Remember Jesus. Sometimes I look for joy in all the wrong places. Things haven’t changed much since Jesus was born. When the wise men came to look for baby Jesus, they went to Jerusalem to ask where is the one who has been born the king of the Jews? They had seen His star and wanted to come worship Him.
But Jesus wasn’t born in Jerusalem. He was born in Bethlehem, just as the prophet had written.
They were looking for Jesus in a city, when He was born in a manger. Just like we look for joy in the places we won’t find it.
Buying gifts for people may bring us temporary happiness (or it may bring us unwanted stress), but it will never result in everlasting joy. You will find everylasting joy, when you find Jesus, and where you will find Him is when You seek Him where He is.
You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35
Live this season, give this season, for the right reasons. Even though Jesus tells us that it is more blessed to give than receive, how many of you don’t feel like it’s much of a blessing? How many of you get flustered with Christmas shopping… or decorating for Christmas… or all of the things that you have to do that come with the season? I can easily fall into the flustered trap. Just like on Black Friday, when I needed to get the presents purchased, there are things that need to get done. But my focus was wrong, and maybe right now yours is too.
I was struggling with the “have to” versus “get to” mentality. I knew I had a lot to get done, and that day shopping was just something to check off my list.
Do you have a “have to” list to get done right now?
I have to bake Christmas cookies…
I have to decorate my house for Christmas…
I have to attend that party…
I have to buy presents for…
I have to…. (fill in the blank)
When I was Christmas shopping I forgot an important truth. Giving is a gift. This season is a gift. And the things that we “have” to do, are actually things that we “get” to do.
Earlier this week my husband took Charlie to Stew’s (a grocery type store) to get some needed items for the week. On the way to the store, Charlie asked to see Santa. He always wants to see Santa. But Charlie then told my husband why…
Charlie had one of his favorite toy cars with him. And he told Mike that he wanted to give it to Santa so that Santa could then give it to a little boy who needed it. And that is what Charlie did.
His heart was in the right place.
Charlie’s desire was to bring someone else joy with a gift. He wasn’t sad about not having his toy anymore, he was not concerned with what he was going to get in return, and he wasn’t even concerned with who was going to get the gift, as long as it was someone who needed it.
And isn’t that a reflection of what God did for us on Christmas. God chose us in advance. And He didn’t give unsparingly. Not at all. Ephesians 1:4-5 says “Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”
He sent His Son, He gave His Son. Sending His Son to earth was a gift, but it was a costly One. Yet it was a costly gift that brought Him great pleasure. The verses that follow go on to say that He did this because He was rich in kindness and grace, and that kindness was showered on us.
God gave without limits.
When He sent His Son to earth, He wasn’t sitting up in heaven thinking “wow, I am not sure I should have done that.” He gave and it brought Him pleasure.
Before going out to buy presents, before decorating for Christmas, before making cookies, or attending that party (or preparing for that party) spend time in His presence. His joy is everlasting, and that is one of the best gifts we could ever receive. And it is in His presence, and with His joy that we should be living this season.
This season may we live, may we give because we “get to”. May we live, may we give out of pure kindness. And when we give, may we do it out of love, knowing that we love because He first loved us.