“I've given like a beggar but lived like the rich
And crafted myself a more comfortable cross,
When we consider how much we have been blessed (and if we live in America we are among the richest people living on the planet today), it’s easy to let go of what we own and share it with those who have little.
I don’t care how poor you think you are, I can probably show you someone who is much worse off than you are. And joy comes from giving to others, helping people in need, and bringing a smile to someone else’s face. Joy is never about what you give to yourself, or even what someone gives to you. That might make you feel thankful, or happy for a moment, but real Joy is something deeper and lasting. It is always about what you give away to others. Making a noticeable difference in another person’s life and knowing that something you did, or something you gave away meant something to another human being is what fuels real joy.
For the last few years now our family has been moving away from buying gifts for one another and focusing instead on bringing joy to others around us. So, we take the money we would normally spend on gifts for each other and we buy gifts for children at the motel where we’ve been serving for over 8 years now. Or we take the time to go caroling at a local senior home and bring joy to people who are desperately lonely and empty. Or we find ways to creatively bless people on our street, or to see the person on the fringes who most people ignore and buy them a meal, or engage them in a friendly conversation.
What changed my mind about Christmas was when we partnered with a few others to bring a Christmas blessing to a woman and her son who were desperately poor a few years ago. She had just recovered from brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. Her son had asked if they could have a Christmas tree because they had never had a tree or gifts to put under it before. After we set up the tree and laid all the gifts under it and hung up the stockings which were jam-packed with blessings, we sat down to pray over her. When we were done she looked up and said, “Can I pray for you?” That’s the moment when my heart broke forever. As this dear, humble sister in Christ lifted up our family in prayer I silently wept. Huge, wet, hot tears dropped into my hands as she called us each by name and gave thanks to God for these blessings.
On my way out to our car to go home I told my family, “That was my Christmas gift. I don’t want or need anything else but that.” And I decided right there and then that from now on I only wanted my Christmas to be about doing all that I could to bless others.
Really, it’s a very selfish decision on my part. I get so much out of this. It’s not really fair because no matter how much I try to bless others, I always come away with a bigger blessing than I brought with me.
Listen to what Paul the Apostle said about serving and giving to others:
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:32-35)
What will you give away this Christmas? The more you give away, the more joy you’ll receive in return.
I dare you to test me on this one.