Be Prepared in Season and out of Season
November 20, 2011
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Christmas is always one of my favorite times of the year. Shopping centers and department stores are decked with twinkling white lights and green garlands, and carols play merrily throughout the aisles. Best of all, most of us make the extra effort to extend additional benevolence to others in the spirit of Christmas. Whether it is through kind words in a greeting card, thoughtful gifts, or extra courteousness in our dealings with strangers, there is an air of kind consideration we wish would last the whole year round.
However, through the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, year-end tasks, and financial constraints, our physical, emotional, and spiritual limitations sometimes cause us to stop short in our good intentions. Beyond common courtesy, seasonal gestures, or even holiday obligations, how do we make a lasting positive impression on those around us to instill hope into the coming year?
For Christians, we may also consider: how do we effectively reflect not only the spirit of Christmas, but the light of Christ’s love to others beyond the holiday season?
During Christmas we often show our appreciation for those dearest to us, as well as extend warmth and kindness to those with whom we are acquainted. With the advent of technology, we can communicate our season’s greetings in a flash through e-cards, text messages, or posts on Internet-based community sites.
How much more effective, however, would these greetings be, if we moved beyond mere words? For example, wishing a friend “Merry Christmas” is far more deeply communicated in a home-cooked meal, heartfelt gift, or shared quality time, than in those two words alone.
Similarly, as Christians who hope to share the love of Jesus with those who do not know Him, or do not yet believe in His love for them, we must not only articulate the Gospel but also demonstrate it in our actions.
We must tell of how Jesus (or, Emmanuel, literally “God with us”) loved the world so much that He humbled Himself as a sinless man, lived among us to relate to our experiences, died to pay for the price for our sin, and resurrected to share with us eternal life with Him. Not only that, we must live this faith, hope, and love in our actions, from the way we treat others, to our dealings with life’s situations—both good and bad.
In addition to our words and actions, our good intentions are best communicated through the very way we live our lives beyond just the Christmas season. Whether its conceding a choice parking spot at the mall, helping a co-worker finish up a project to be able to leave work on time, or picking up the tab for someone unexpectedly, these random acts of kindness are welcome blessings to just about anyone. However, our human limitations, such as tiredness, impatience, and lack of resources typically limit such graces to special occasions and holidays, rather than the whole year round. In contrast, a genuine change in outlook in the way we live our lives with compassion and optimism, are refreshing expressions that leave lasting impressions on the people we encounter.
Similarly, for Christians who want to share the love of Jesus with someone who does not believe in Him, or is unconvinced of the impact He can make on their lives, living differently from the way you lived before you accepted Jesus as your Savior speaks volumes!
Telling others about the hope we find in Christ, or about the love we are moved to feel for others because of His love for us, are far more convincing when others can see that hope and love that ought to exude from our lives through the transformation that took place in us when we met Jesus.
This Christmas, may you bring encouragement to others through a life changed by hope and the love of Christ, as we marvel once again about the tiny baby who was born to change the world!