Recently I shopped for Christmas gifts with two dear friends. Humming joyful melodies set the festive mood, but my heart was unwilling to rack up credit card charges for unneeded purchases.
My hopeful spirit skillfully maneuvered crowded shops, looking for the perfect item that spoke the name of my loved ones. I spent hours searching the mall’s nooks and crannies for gift items. I desired to find treasures that would bring countless hours of happiness.
When I returned home in anticipation of wrapping my newly purchased items, I discovered that I had only bought a beautiful red sweater and art supplies for me. I had nothing to wrap and place under the tree for anyone other than myself!
It is easy for me to spot selfishness in a young child rejecting a gift or pouting because their sibling received a toy they had wished for. But usually it is harder to spot it in myself.
As I measured flour, stirred, and rolled out cookie dough I carefully considered who I am really baking cookies for. Is my willingness to sweep up sprinkles simply because I like to eat sugar cookies? That it makes the house smell like Grandma’s house?
This Christmas I carefully considered the activities I desired to complete: whether it was meant as a gift for others or myself?
Phillipians 2:4 (NIV) gives us advice to look after the interest of others. This takes intentional effort to consider what other people actually need, like, or want. To resist filling in the blanks for what I think people need, would like, or might want. Instead I need to carefully listen, to hear what they are saying.
Even on my best days when I intentionally listen, I often still don’t have a clue what someone really needs. I’m not a rocket scientist but even I realize only our Heavenly Father can determine what truly benefits others.
Since determining the best course of action requires wisdom and the only place to find true wisdom is by asking our Heavenly Father, whisper to him your request. Then search the nooks and crannies of your bible for the perfect gifts that your loved ones really need. A word of encouragement, comfort during a difficult season, or spiritual healing that only Jesus Christ himself can provide may be located in His word.
Deuteronomy 15:10 (NIV) says that we should give generously without a grudging heart. To open our hand wide to the needy. To give for the glory of God for Him to use as He sees fit.
As I looked carefully at my gift list, I am thankful for the blessings that the Lord has entrusted to my family. But am I being a good steward of the financial resources that the Lord has provided?
Several years ago I attended a conference where I heard about an organization named Compassion International. They partner with indigenous local churches in order to meet the needs of the children in poverty situations. Although I had carelessly tossed the flyer into the trash can on that particular day, the name stuck with me.
After a thoughtful research and prayerful consideration, I committed to sponsor a young girl in Indonesia. Her Dad works as an unskilled agricultural workers and travels a long distance to work. He earns very little.
For the price of one of my gifts on my list, I can help this young girl attend school twice a week. A gift that makes a lasting impact for her entire future. One that would be treasured all year long!
If you too have been searching for a gift that really makes a difference in the lives of others, consider various ways to look to the interest of others.
It may be as simple as lifting up your loves ones to the Lord and asking for wisdom. Or you may seek direction how to invest the limited financial resources that has been entrusted to you.
Perhaps this year has been high in medical bills due to cancer treatments, automobile repairs, and natural disaster home repair. Even then, you can still make a difference.
Starting a fundraiser, volunteering at a Compassion event near your home, or completing activities with your own children to learn more about others in different parts of the world are just a few quick ideas that you can find on the Compassion website. If you are a blogger, you can join their network to receive monthly writing prompts to spread the word.
Please join me in praying for the children of this world who are living in poverty:
Heavenly Father, we praise you because you are wisdom. You know the needs of every child and have a wonderful plan for each life. We thank you for the financial resources that your hand has provided for us this year. We confess any selfishness that may hinder us and ask you to help us open our hands wide to the children of this world who so desperately need you. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Thank you for your prayers, and feel free to list any other ways you have discovered to regard others as more important than ourselves.