Every year as Christmas approaches, I find myself making wish lists—clothing, makeup, housewares, you name it. My Instagram feed is filled with ads for products that would make great additions to my closet or jewelry box.
I lean toward materialistic tendencies anyway (I’m working on it!), but during this time of year, I definitely lean even more towards wanting more, more, more.
But this desire goes directly against how we as Christians are called to live:
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. (1 Timothy 6:6–9)
As you navigate this holiday season (and the rest of life), how can you stay content? I’ve got a few tips that I’ll be trying to abide by myself!
Giving to Others
Being generous is a hallmark of the Christian life, and that is made extremely apparent during the Christmas season. Nonprofits request year-end, tax-deductible donations, and bell-ringers stand outside of stores collecting change. People, regardless of their faith, are more generous during Christmas.
As Christians, we are called to be generous all year long. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, God calls His people to love those around them by giving of their own possessions to benefit their neighbor:
If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. (Leviticus 25:35–37)
This year, I will be mindfully and thoughtfully giving to others who are in need. Whether you participate in your church’s giving tree, donate money anonymously to a family in need, or help a person you encounter who is homeless, you can find a lot of ways to give to others and spread the love of Jesus.
Giving to God
In addition to giving to others, Christians are called to give to God. Giving sacrificially or tithing can seem intimidating, but the truth is we are called to joyfully give back to God what He has first given to us. Ten percent of our total income seems like—and truthfully is!—a lot of money, but Christ gave everything for us.
I always come back to the story of the poor widow when I think about giving to God:
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and He saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1–4)
I am extremely blessed by God, so I should have no trouble giving back to Him what He has first given me! It is difficult, but it is definitely something that works on my heart personally.
Giving Up Your Possessions
Now, for many of us, even if we give to others and give to God, we still have a lot of possessions. And, in this holiday season, we’ll likely still receive a lot of gifts that we don’t really need.
Christ calls us to consider where our heart lies based on where our treasure is. We are not called to horde possessions but rather to focus on the eternal gifts of heaven:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19–21)
Now, that doesn’t mean that you need to live like a nomad with only the shirt on your back, but it is important to evaluate just how much stuff you have in comparison to how much stuff you really need.
I once read a quote attributed to C. S. Lewis that went something like, “We should be giving so generously that we feel it.” I think about that a lot, especially around the holiday season—I should be giving to others and to God so much that I notice it in my daily life. So much that others notice my generosity and give me a chance to share my confidence in Jesus Christ. I don’t just want to flippantly donate money to a random charity or ask for a less expensive gift this year. I want to make an eternal difference in people’s lives.
“Those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.” (Psalm 34:10)