Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ten Tips: How to Make Christmas Other-Person Centered

Christmas is by far the biggest of all American Christian celebrations. Throughout the year's holidays we spend the most time and effort on this holiday. If we are truly Christians and we are involved in the largest of all Christian holidays we should be most focused on portraying our Christian distinctives. We ought to be paying extra-special attention to how we think about God and how we treat one another. Here is a list, of no specific order, containing some guidelines for being other-person centered.
(Be sure to read the Bible passages.)

1. Write a Christmas list.
While you may not want much (or even anything) in the way of gifts this year, people will still be buying you gifts. Believers want to, by nature, love you. Make it easy for them to do so.
(Philip. 2:1-5; Philem. 1:7; Heb. 10:24-25)

2. Make Christmas Christ centered.
Yes, Jesus is the reason for the season; but Jesus is the reason for everything we do--every season of life. When we are told in the NT what we ought to do it is always (almost) in light of what He has done for us.
(Eph. 5:2, 25; Titus 3:4-8; 1 Jn. 3:16)

3. Un-isolate the family/ies
Though the general sentiment around the holidays is one of joining the families together, there seems to be a temptation to keep as much time alone (as a domestic family unit or an individual) as is conceivable. It is quite hard to love people, as I'm sure all would agree, when you are not near them. Try to keep yourselves from being isolated from your larger physical family and especially your spiritual family. If your plan is to love "one another" then isolation is a bad idea.
(Heb. 10:24-25)

4. Don't buy anything for yourself during this time.
It is hard for people to think of something you would actually like--especially if you are an adult making a decent living. I don't know how many times I've bought something (or was planning to) that I thought a person I love would really like where they ended up buying it for themselves. This is an easy way to stay focused on other people. Make the givers the ones who are more important than you.
(Acts 20:35; Philip. 2:3)

5. Unload your schedule to equip yourself.
Our desire ought to be that we would be used as an instrument in the Lord's hands. Another practical tip for the Christmas season is to be able to spend more physical and mental energy and resources on others you must regulate and balance your time and responsibilities. Free yourselves up to be used by Him to love others.
(2 Cor. 6:4; Rom. 6:13, 7:5, 12:1; 1 Pet. 4:2)

6. Christmas is not a birthday party.
My daughter, who is five, seems to equate Christmas with a celebration of Jesus' birthday. There is very good reason for her to hold this view: most Evangelicals act like they believe this. When we neglect to focus on why Jesus came but rather focus on that he came we will neglect to focus on our Christian duties.
(1 Jn. 3:5; 1 Tim 1:15)

7. The greatest gift you can receive is grace.
Spending too much attention on the material gifts will draw attention away from the superior gift; that we have received forgiveness of sins. If we have been forgiven much we should forgive and love much. Remembering the real reason Christ came and the gift we have received will help us to show grace to those around us this time of year.
(Luke 7:47; John 15:12-13, 17:23-26)

8. Christmas isn't just for family.
Let us remember to extend our time and money, as love, to not only our immediate family; not only to our extended family; not only to our friends; but to those who are strangers to us and enemies of us. Keep an eye out for opportunities to care for people that you would not normally care for.
(Matt. 5:44, 22:39; Luke 6:27, 6:35; Jam. 2:8; Rom. 13:10; Gal. 5:14)

9. Be a minimalist.
Take a practical approach. Keep it simple. Be flexible. Don't buy a lot of gifts. Let the important things stand out. Love one another.

10. Be content in all things.
(Philip. 4:11)