We are once again in the season of giving. People are buying gifts for members of their immediate families, extended families, co-workers and others.
Giving can be fun or no fun at all, depending on who you’re buying for and why you are buying for them. How can we increase the fun and eliminate or reduce the stress of giving this Christmas season? What are some Christian principles for us to keep in mind? Here are four tips for experiencing greater joy this Christmas, based on a few biblical principles.
1. Remember that happiness and contentment are a choice.
The apostle Paul said, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil. 4:11). People’s happiness on Christmas or any other day is not based on things you provide. It is based on their own attitude about life and the circumstances around them. Try not to get stressed trying to create happiness through your gifts; that’s improbable if not impossible. Instead, do your best to bring joy and let that be enough. Relax! Enjoy the process without worrying about the results.
2. Remember that there are many ways to express love through giving.
In Scripture we read “that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment” (Phil. 1:9). We are to continuously learn how to better love those around us. For some people, receiving a gift is the greatest evidence of someone’s love for them. For many others it could be a verbal or written expression of your love. For still others it may be an act of service, which costs nothing, that speaks volumes to them. Some would be touched by a gift of dedicated one-on-one time, perhaps a day together in the future that you set aside just to be with them.
Think about what would mean the most to your loved ones and try to creatively wrap up one of these ideas in a package and see how much it means to them. You may be surprised how much joy you could give through a non-traditional gift.
3. Use the Christmas season as a teaching opportunity for younger family members.
Give small children a Christmas budget to spend, and help them learn the joy of giving a gift to people they love. Jesus said it’s more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), and we start to teach this from the earliest years. You can start doing this with children as young as 3.
4. Give to someone who is unable to reciprocate.
Jesus makes the gift of salvation available to everyone, including those who haven’t given Him anything and may never give Him their life or service. He taught that we already have an earthly reward when we love those who love us, but we receive a heavenly reward when we love our enemies and those who will give nothing in return (Luke 6:32-35).
Consider giving to someone who has been your enemy. This can be difficult, but you may gain a friend.
Think about how you can give to someone you know won’t be giving you anything in return. This can be through a gift of service, not just something you can wrap. For example, my family spent one Christmas in the hospital because my wife was sick. Since then, we have gone to a hospital a few times on Christmas with flowers and sang carols to brighten the patients’ day.
You could do something for first responders who are on duty on the holiday. Or perhaps you could contact an agency that serves those in need and learn about a family you could help that day. You could anonymously give money to a family in need so they can buy gifts for each other or have a special Christmas meal.
Whatever you do, decide as a family how and to whom you will give. This increases the enthusiasm from each family member, since they helped make the decision.
This Christmas season is a great opportunity for us to be like the great Giver! It was His joy to give salvation to us (Heb. 12:2). Let’s experience that same joy in our giving this Christmas.