As the Holiday season quickly approaches, children and adults alike begin to wonder what will be in that box under the Christmas tree. Children start making lists and adults begin to lay out hints. Even Thanksgiving turns into a Black Friday pre-shopping sales reading extravaganza, instead of time to laugh and talk and give thanks with family and friends that we love. Either way, we have turned the Christmas holiday into something about us. What will we get?
Yet Christmas isn’t about us at all. It’s about the birth of the one that is our Greatest Gift of all.
3 years ago, I was speaking at a women’s event when the leader of the women’s group opened up the event by reading a children’s book called “The Sparkle Box” by Jill Hardie. The preface of the story is about a little boy who’s family is getting ready for Christmas and he’s super excited about all the festivities and the gifts to come. However, there is this one sparkly silver box just sitting around the entire Christmas season with no name on it. During the season, along with the festivities, the family does little acts of kindness here and there for all walks of life. On Christmas morning all the gifts are opened until they get to the sparkly box, and when the little boy opens the box instead of a gift inside he finds slips of paper with each act of kindness written on it. The parents explained to their son that the kindness they showed others were gifts that they gave to Jesus, like the wise men who brought gifts to the King of gold, frankincense and myrrh. “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11. (NIV)
It’s not about what we get out of the box, but what we put into the box that matters.
How can you make this Holiday season about the truth of the season? There is more than a month ahead of you to prepare your gifts for the King. Where will you start? “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 2 Corinthians 9:7-9
What I have learned over the years is that I receive an even greater gift when I give to others than when I get from others.
It’s not that I don’t love the gifts people give to me and the fact that they think of me, it’s that giving to others gives me this abundance of Joy even when I don’t get to see the person who receives it. This joy is undoubtably from the Lord and continues to grow the more you give. It is unexplainable but fully real.
Over the next 39 days why not look for things outside of the box that we can add into our gift for Jesus. We can continue to be like the wise men and bring Him our presents and presence. Wherever you are there are people in more need than yourself, so here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Donate blankets to a shelter. With Winter coming soon I’m sure you’ve begun to unpack all of your extra blankets. Even the stores like to get into the action by adding great sales on the extra soft ones. Why not donate your gently used blankets or some brand news ones to someone who doesn’t even have a place to call home.
- Gather food for your nearest food bank. Churches, compassion centers, food banks, almost every community has somewhere that accepts food, especially non-perishable items, that can be utilized for children and families that are either homeless or only have little to put on their table each day.
- Adopt a child or a family for Christmas. There are Ginger Bread trees and Angel trees, all over. Your local children’s home, church, and some schools will have something set up to adopt a child or a family for Christmas so that every family can experience the love of Christ and the gift of His Presence by the presents given by others like you.
- Lend a hand to the elderly. Why not find a shut-in by going to the local churches or assisted living facilities and bring them some cheer this holiday season. Bake them a cake, sing them some carols, just give them an ear to listen to some of the amazing stories that they have to tell. They just want someone to show them they aren’t alone.
- Fill a shoebox for a child around the world. Now this one needs to be done as soon as you can so that it can get into the hands of a child before Christmas. Operation Christmas Child is a huge blessing to a child somewhere that wouldn’t even know about Jesus or even gifts without your help. www.samaritanspurse.org/occ
- Be a Secret Santa to someone who has lost a loved one this year. During the holidays many people will truly struggle with the loss of a loved one that they’ve experienced over the past year(s). The memories are still there, but their presence is not. Why not give them an anonymous gift reminding them that someone is thinking of them and caring for them during this time.
- Give a financial gift to a Christian non-profit, trusting that they will be providing for someone in need (children, adults and families) as well as sharing the gospel as they do. As it comes to the end of the year, non-profits have some of the greatest needs fulfilling the ministry that God has given them.
- Share the story of Jesus with all that will listen. “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?These are only a few ways of looking outside the box, and I’m sure you can come up with many others.” Romans 10:14 (NLT)
How about begin to make your list….a list of ways to give back instead of get, and see how God gives you even greater Joy this holiday season.
Why not fill your own sparkly box for Jesus, and on Christmas morning open up the box, reading each little gift, giving thanks to Him, the Greatest Gift you will ever receive.