From a cultural standpoint, I find the juxtaposition of Thanksgiving and Christmas interesting. The former is probably the least commercialized and basic holiday we have, while the latter is the most commercialized and extravagant. As we transition from one season to the next, I believe it is important to keep things in perspective.
I heard a preacher say recently that thankfulness is as much something God wants for us as it is something he wants from us. I believe that is true because a thankful heart leads to a spirit of contentment, and that is a blessing. It is not only a blessing; it is empowering. That empowerment is particularly important this time of year because it enables us to resist the bombardment of strategic advertising that occurs in the build-up to Christmas.
That strategy is fairly simple and includes a three part message: 1. You’re not happy, 2. You deserve to be happy, and 3. If you buy our product, it will make you happy. The same basic message is used to target a five-year-old girl for a Video Barbie, and a forty-year-old man for a new Lexus. The truth is that there are fallacies in all three parts:
- If you have a thankful heart and possess that spirit of contentment, you are not unhappy, regardless of your circumstance (1 Timothy 6:6,7).
- We deserve nothing outside of God’s grace and mercy which He abundantly grants to us (1 Timothy 1:13,14).
- To say that any material possession will make you happy is a lie (1 Timothy 6:10).
Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas! This is a wonderful time of year and there is great joy in giving. There is also tremendous significance in taking time to focus on Christ and his birth, and acknowledge the incredible gift that God gave us. As we do that, however, it is important for us to equip ourselves and our children to recognize the cultural influences that work to distract us, and to stand strong on what is true.
I hope you and your families have a wonderful and joyful holiday season. Let’s celebrate the birth of Christ and praise our Father in heaven! Let’s count our blessings and share generously – not only with gifts, but also with the love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness that has been so generously shared with us.