Christmas time is a season of light. From Thanksgiving to the end of December, the collective part of humanity (at least in the United States) makes it a point to focus on others, even if it’s their own children, and to show some “good will toward men”, if even only for a month. I could write pages and pages (or the blog equivalent thereof) about doing this because of an awareness of God’s presence in our lives and serving others because of our desire to bring glory to him-as opposed to doing it out of simple humanitarian benevolence. But today, I’m going to write about how to find purpose in all of this seasonal goodness.
You see, with everyone doing some sort of good, this time of year, it can be difficult to decide which charitable cause should get your time and resources. There are Salvation Army bell ringers, Toys for Tots, Angel Trees, canned food drives, Christmas dinners, and countless other noble pursuits. And since the Savior of the world left the earth just under two thousand years ago, the rest of us who are not him are left at the mercy of our human limitations. So it can be difficult to stay focused in the blitz of blessedness. And sometimes lost in the midst of all of this is giving to your church home through your tithes and offerings. So here are some ways to stay focused with our purpose this season.
1. If you are not normally charitable, find a way this season to support a cause. You won’t have to look far to find a toy drive, food drive, or other way to be a blessing. Whatever you do, make sure it requires some sort of time and/or monetary commitment. While dropping change in the Salvation Army bucket is great, it doesn’t require a lot of effort and usually doesn’t require a sacrifice in resources. If you aren’t sure where to start looking, call a local church or even a newspaper or radio station office to find places you can make a contribution.
2. Choose something that is close to your heart. If you have children, you might get them to help support a toy drive. If you have some elderly neighbors or shut-ins near you, you might want to support a food drive. My wife works in a pregnancy center for young girls with unplanned pregnancies. Many of them have other children and are on low or fixed incomes. So we did an Angel Tree for those children and got the gifts to be purchased by the youth group at my church and also got some assistance from the United Methodist Women.
3. Don’t try to do it all. There are so many great causes to support this time of year, and unless your Bill Gates, you won’t be able to support everything. Decide what cause(s) and/or organization(s) you are going to support and don’t guilt yourself because you can’t do more. With New Year’s Day right around the corner, this is a great reason to get started or to return to living on a budget.
4. Speaking of budgets, don’t put yourself into financial trouble being benevolent. Broke people can’t help others. So keep your own financial house in order so you can continue to be a blessing to others.
5. Give with a good heart. I believe if you help others out of duty or obligation and become frustrated or irritable in the process, God is not glorified in your giving. So do so out of a heart of gratitude and thanks to God for what he has given you and be glad you are in a position to help others.
6. Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul. If you make regular contributions to your church or other charitable organizations, don’t put those donations on hold for the month of December to free up funds for other causes. Those organizations are dependent on your regular contributions, so find other places in your budget to utilize for seasonal giving.
7. Find ways to give when the holiday season is over. There are lots of ways to give during the holidays, but once Christmas is gone, many families and children will still be without. Find ways to give once the holidays are over. One thing my wife and I have started recently is sponsoring a child through World Vision. We give $35 a month through an automatic draft to feed, clothe, and educate a child in the Philippines.
What would you add to this list? What are some other ways to give? How do you stay focused on the true spirit of the season?