This is my favorite time of year. Once October hits, there seems to be a shift in the air. The anticipation and excitement of the holiday season, mixed with a little relief from the humidity and heat, brings new energy to me. With Thanksgiving being just a few days away, I am resisting the strong urge to start decorating for Christmas. I know, I am unashamedly one of those people. To be fair, I am just as excited for Thanksgiving and enjoying all the family, food and football. Although, this holiday season will be a little different than what I am used to. This year will be filled with many “firsts”. Here are a few:
- I get to pick out my own Christmas tree.
- My husband and I get to create our own holiday traditions.
- I am expected to contribute to both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner menus… so let’s pray that goes well.
- I get to open my own home for guests to come and stay in. (I now have a new understanding of my mom’s frantic holiday cleaning.)
- Lastly, the first year that my gift giving will significantly increase.
The thought of all these “firsts” became very overwhelming and stressful. As Satan has his way of doing, my thoughts were instantly filled with negativity.
“What if what I cook for Thanksgiving ends up being a disaster?”
“I have no idea what to get my mother-in-law for Christmas.”
“It was so much easier back when I was a kid and got to open all the presents and just eat all the delicious food.”
Then God did what He does best and so clearly, but gently reminded me… You’re missing it.
Joy in Giving
You see, the receiving part is easy. It’s fun. There is joy in receiving and we are filled up. But, when we approach giving with the right mindset, I believe there is more joy found in that. God doesn’t just call us to receive His grace and it stops there. We are called to give of ourselves and our resources so that others may experience the richness of His grace.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:7-8
What We Give
So, what can we give? Here are just a few things that I need to give more of:
- Giving more thanks. My giving needs to start with The Lord. The more gratitude I have and the more I thank Him for what He is done in my life, my perspective shifts on more Him-centered and less me-centered. John Piper says, “Gratitude flourishes in the sphere of grace.” As we continue to grow in our faith and more deeply understand the extravagance of God’s grace in our lives, we cannot help but grow in our gratitude and awe of what He has done for us.
- Giving more grace. I have received the gift of grace, so why not share it with others? Giving grace to someone else is such a powerful example of The Gospel. The Lord doesn’t keep account of all our wrongs, so why do we with others? “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
- Giving more time. My time is what I am the most selfish with. I often have my own agenda and idea of how my time should be spent. The truth is, God has given us time, so we must be a good steward of our time and how we use it. What do you need to give more time to? God? Your family? Your business? Serving others?
As the holiday approaches, The Lord has given me a new perspective on my giving. Instead of stressing over the perfect gift to give my in-laws, I will be thankful that I have a new family that has so graciously welcomed me in and gives so much to me, that I in return am able to give back to them. So, just as we receive let us not just give, but give with a cheerful heart. We can give things that are not only tangible, but also intangible. Our giving should be a lifestyle, not because a holiday season reminds us to, but because we are the hands and feet of God and are called to give up ourselves as a living sacrifice so that others may experience God’s grace and love. Whether it is in your personal life or professional life, what will you give more of?