As we all know, Thanksgiving is a time that is popular for stuffing ourselves.
I will be the first to admit (among MANY) that I enjoy immense amounts of carbohydrates on Thanksgiving Day, and the stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy are my favorite parts of the menu! My eyes are often bigger than my stomach, so I am prone to piling it all on my plate before I realize I can’t quite finish it all; this is NEVER the case with my mashed potatoes and gravy, however! The excessive portions of rich food are all too easy to over-indulge on, usually followed by a massive coma. I’ll also admit that it is sometimes hard to remember that I’m supposed to leave some helpings of my favorite dishes for my family members, but I usually try to remain self-aware of my servings before I let myself get too carried away.
Basically, I’m heavily inclined to want too much of a good thing.
This applies not only to heaping amounts of food, but also to all manner of material objects in addition to the food. Whether we are shopping for others or for ourselves on Black Friday (or literally any other time of year), the natural human instinct of selfishness can easily display itself, even in good people with the best intentions. Our culture’s philosophy of commercialism during this time of year boils down to the simple yet harsh idea of “survival of the fittest.” Everyone is preoccupied with getting all they can for their own individual purposes while the getting is good. It would seem at times that some people push aside all pretenses at human civility and decency in favor of their ruthless quest in pillaging for treasures. Sadly, this is the reality of our modern society that has become obsessed with the culture of commercialism and consumerism.
However, we must never forget about the real treasures that are at risk of being lost.
As you go about the day shopping for the holidays during this time of year, you will see multitudes of faces in every corner of every store – faces that all belong to people that the Lord Jesus Christ gave His precious life for. Each and every individual is a completely unique entity that was created and formed in the divine image of God. Just as you have thoughts, feelings, emotions, and problems in your own life, so does everyone else. Instead of focusing on your own needs, try to think about people around you who may be in similar (or even WORSE) situations. Many people in today’s world do not know God as their Creator and Savior, or if they do know, they willfully choose to reject Him and His love for them. Just as Jesus Himself stated in Luke 10:2, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few.” It is therefore imperative that we don’t neglect the enormous potential for harvesting lost souls for Christ’s sake during the holidays, just like any other time of year.
The best way to take advantage of this potential spiritual harvest is by sharing our spiritual treasures and gifts with everyone else, rather than hoarding everything good for ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying what we have, and we are commanded by God to be thankful, but the Bible also instructs us to follow Christ’s example by giving unto others. If Jesus Himself was willing to go out of His way to show His Father’s love to people on this Earth, then certainly we must do the same.
What are some ways that we can share Christ’s love and His blessings during this time of year? you may ask.
Believe it or not, the available options are surprisingly simple and quite manageable, even if you’re on a tight budget:
1. Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you with His presence.
Before you take one step inside your local shopping mall (or anywhere else, for that matter), make sure you consciously remember to ask God to fill you with His Spirit. There are countless hurting people in the world with broken, confused, and disillusioned hearts; they just need someone to look at them with love through the eyes of Jesus. Instead of blending in with the stressed out hordes of humanity, stand out from the crowd with the light of the Holy Spirit’s love shining inside of you. No matter how many other bodies are surrounding you, your presence filled with God’s peace will not go unnoticed. Someone who has a truly Christ-like countenance is rare to find these days, and if someone is brave enough to put it on display, it will be like a breath of fresh air to a lost and fallen world.
2. Give the gift of joy by sharing a smile.
“Joy to the world! The LORD is come!” It’s so sad to think about the countless people who don’t have any sense of joy in their hearts; they probably don’t even understand the true meaning of the word. Unfortunately, Satan is responsible for this circumstance in our sinful world. The good news is, we HAVE the Good News to share with others – the Gospel, which describes how God loved mankind so much, while it was still yet cursed with sin, that He was willing to send His Son JESUS to die on the cross to take our punishment away for all eternity. To escape from eternal death unto eternal life is an opportunity that ought to put a smile on anyone’s face, but how can the fallen world understand that concept of joy if we Christians don’t keep up a joyful countenance? Sure, I understand how stressful this time of year can be, and the levels of stress inevitably vary based on individuals’ circumstances – but we can still make an effort to spread true, Christian joy with those around us by keeping a warm smile on our face to help melt away the bitter coldness on other people’s faces.
3. Serve others with little acts of kindness.
Even if you think that you don’t have much to give to others, a helping hand is always a welcome gift when needed. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about donating money for a cause or getting someone a financial boost; I’m talking about just showing kindness to others on a daily basis. Whether it’s holding a door open for someone else (regardless of their gender), carrying heavy bags and/or boxes, shoveling snow off a driveway or parking lot, assisting with cooking holiday meals, wrapping presents, or just doing the dishes, the list of helpful actions goes on and on. Another act of kindness that is simple to carry out is being a listening ear for someone else. Surely people have all kinds of problems this time of year, just like they do in any other month; the least we can do is let them know we’re there for them by just listening. If the other person welcomes it, we can also offer helpful advice from our personal experiences and also God’s Word. Of course, praying with and for another person is the greatest act of Christian love you can do for someone else. So as you can see, no matter how small your “gift” is, there will always be a need for it somewhere by someone who truly appreciates it.
These spiritual blessings are not limited to this time of year alone; rather, we are called to “be the light” 24/7, 365 days a year.
By providing others around us with these gifts of spiritual blessings, we offer them an even GREATER gift of hope – hope that can ONLY be found through knowing the Lord Jesus Christ in a personal relationship with Him. After obtaining this divine, personal relationship with Jesus, people everywhere receive the true meaning and manifestation of “blessed hope” in their hearts. “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” (Titus 2:13) We should go out of our way like Jesus did to make a conscious effort to bless others, no matter where we are or what our circumstances may be. We should never keep the light all to ourselves, but share it freely in the darkness of this world full of hurting people. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid, neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) It is our sacred duty and privilege as Christians to carry out the Great Commission for the sake of our Lord, Jesus Christ, so that lost souls might be saved and realize just how much God loves them. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Now that you know these budget-friendly options for sharing spiritual treasures with the world, I hope that you will go out and try them to the best of your ability. Remember, nobody wants to be labeled as a selfish, over-stuffed turkey that’s close to the verge of exploding! Get out their and share your stuffing, and show the world the stuff you’re made of – God’s love.
– Gloria D. Hopkins