It’s that time of the year. Christmas. The season of holiday decorations and children’s anticipation. The season of twinkling lights and snowball fights – well at least on TV – not so much in the warm, sunny south – but I digress. It’s the season of parties galore and multiple trips to the store. A time for Christmas cheer with family and friends near. And Jesus. Let’s not forget Jesus!
Christmas is a busy season and we put so many expectations on ourselves and others, that we often lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. One of the biggest stressors for many people is gift giving. Some people spend hours searching for the perfect gift. Others stress about the inability to give gifts due to financial constraints. Sometimes it’s those last-minute gifts that cause anxiety, and sometimes the struggle is with guilt over not having a gift for someone at all.
I remember a Christmas years ago that I significantly struggled. I was a stay-at-home mom, it had been a difficult year financially, and I did not feel like celebrating at all. Had it not been for grandparents, our children would not have had gifts at all. I spent the season feeling sorry for myself and feeling jealous of those who seemed to be sailing through the season with no stressors at all. One day in prayer, God convicted me of my attitude, and I realized I had allowed the Grinch of commercialism to steal the true meaning of Christmas.
The truth is, I felt guilty that people gave to my family, and we did not have the means to reciprocate. I had no gifts to bring. I was ashamed and embarrassed. I truly love encouraging others, and I felt bad knowing I was going to show up to the Christmas celebration empty-handed. Then it hit me. Wait! I love encouraging others! Encouragement is a gift! That year, I wrote letters to everyone in my family and others in my life that were very dear to me. I was nervous about it, but I did it. I poured out my heart to them. I shared what they meant to me, the ways I appreciated them, and how I prayed for God to bless them. I gave them the gift of encouragement, and they graciously received it – many with tears in their eyes. That Christmas I learned that it’s not about the number of gifts or the cost of the gifts – it’s about sharing our true, God-given gifts.
This year our theme at Cord of Three is “A Time to Rebuild.” Rebuilding is work, and it takes a team of people who are willing to share their gifts to make the project a success. As Christians, we do not have to come up with these gifts on our own. God gives us those gifts! When Moses was instructed to build the tabernacle, God spoke to him and said,
Building the tabernacle was quite a task, but God gave the people the gifts they needed to accomplish that task. However, they had to be willing to use those gifts to get the work done. God has given each of you gifts, also, and He gave them to you for a reason. He needs you to use those gifts to help accomplish the task set before you. What needs rebuilding in your life? A broken relationship? A negative belief about yourself? A ministry opportunity in your church? Whatever needs rebuilding in your life, God has given you the gifts needed to do the work. What are your gifts? Encouragement? Forgiveness? The ability to instill hope? A talent your church needs? In this season of giving in a year of rebuilding, reflect on the gifts God has given you and ways you can share them with others. You no longer have no gifts to bring – you bring the best gifts because you bring God’s gifts!