A couple of years back, I remember my sister asking my kids, “What’s on your Christmas list?”
They looked at each other blankly before asking, “What’s a Christmas list?”
At the risk of sounding prideful, I was relieved and grateful that they had made it to ages 6, 8 and 11 without knowing about Christmas lists. I should clarify, however, that this was their first Christmas living in America. That definitely had something to do with it.
Of course, as soon as they learned what a Christmas list is, they wasted no time heaping wishes, desires and wants to their newly discovered ‘lists.’
The mindset of giving
That Sunday, our pastor spoke on Hebrews 10:24-25 and our tendency to leave a worship service asking the question, “What did I get out of that?” Instead, we ought to be asking ourselves, “What did I give?”
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
The same attitude could be prescribed for all of life, couldn’t it? Instead of spending our Christmas season and our lives asking, “What did I get?”, we should ask for the Lord’s help in continually asking, “What can I give?”
It’s a mindset that I’ve tried hard to instil in my children, and one that I need daily grace to practice myself. It’s fine to be excited about what wrapped parcels may be waiting under the Christmas tree, but that anticipation shouldn’t overshadow the greatest anticipation of all — the coming of Christ.
The mindset of serving
This past weekend, my kids had an opportunity to distribute over 200 handmade Christmas cards to elderly people in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. It wasn’t my idea. We didn’t make the cards. In fact, I wasn’t even there. They haven’t stopped talking about it. One of them has been pestering me for two days, asking when they can do it again.
Another sister of mine took her kids to serve at a Thanksgiving dinner for homeless people. It was their first time doing something like that, and her 8-year-old and 10-year-old couldn’t stop talking about it, either. They, too, asked when they could do it again.
Don’t underestimate the impact that an experience like that can have on a child. It takes effort to purposefully go out and serve, but the ramifications are so worth it. Not only will you likely bless someone else, but it’s quite possible that you and your family will be blessed by the experience as well.
While this holiday season may spark a brighter flame of desire to make a difference, it’s a habit and lifestyle that can and should become part of our year-round routines … not only because it’s Christmas.
The mindset of blessing
If you still have shopping to do, consider how you might give gifts that could potentially have eternal significance. Instead of another sweater or coffee cup, or the latest novel or DVD, consider buying your children and/or other family members or friends gifts that will spur them on in their faith, or encourage them to consider Christ if they have not yet bowed the knee.
There’s nothing wrong with buying Monsters University or Disney’s Planes … but what about a children’s DVD that will teach kids biblical principles and cause them to grow in their love for their Lord and Saviour? Another coffee mug is fine, but why not get one with a verse of Scripture inscribed across the ceramic, to help a friend start their day not only with a shot of caffeine, but with the words of life that will quench a thirst and provide a boost far greater and longer-lasting than a grande flat white. If it’s a book you are planning to purchase, think carefully about choosing one that will build up and strengthen the recipient; one that contains a message that may change a life with the help of the Holy Spirit.
I know it’s cliché, but let’s go beyond just remembering the true reason for the season … Let’s ask God to help us develop mindsets that turn the focus away from ourselves and what we can get, and rather turn our thinking toward others — how we can give, serve and bless, to the glory of God.
This article first appeared at www.katemotaung.com.