What motivates society’s interest in the celebration of Christmas? We live in a day of profuse materialism characterized by incessant ads telling us of great gifting options for loved ones or friends. Are we to assume that those selling these “gifts” have as their primary concern a desire to give?
Our society is driven by greed, and it is especially evident during the holiday shopping season. The frenzy begins in earnest on “Black Friday,” and continues until late in the day on Christmas Eve. Televisions, game systems, tablet computers, cell phones, cars, clothes and shoes are all offered at bargain prices and people will literally fight with others to get what they want. The shopping centers are overrun in spite of the fact that our economy is drained. This obsessive compulsion to shop, even though incomes are down and people are struggling financially, is a disheartening testimony to the addictive indulgence of our society. Our philosophy is, “you only go around once, so get all you can on your way.” The unspoken tenet of that philosophy is that happiness is derived from amassing material wealth: the more possessions you have, the greater your happiness. Sadly, that mistaken belief constitutes the rule by which most Americans live.
School aged children ask each other what they are “getting” for Christmas. Parents ask their children: “What do you “want” for Christmas this year?” Then they herd them to the mall to recite their “wish list” to Santa. I realize that the parent’s primary concern is a desire to fulfill their children’s dreams, thereby making them happy. I wonder, however, if by placing so much emphasis on what they receive, they are not sending a wrong message to their children.
The problem with that philosophy is that it focuses attention, not on what they have, but on what they don’t have. They spend so much time thinking about the things they want that they fail to appreciate the things they have. Here’s an important biblical principle: “Happiness is not found in obtaining what you want, but in being content with what you have.” The writer of the book of Hebrews emphasized the point this way: “Let your conversation (lifestyle) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 3:5)
Covetousness and contentment are mutually exclusive; they cannot exist equally in the heart of an individual. Covetousness is mentioned by name 17 times in the New Testament; never in a positive way, and always forbidden in the heart of a believer. The unstated implication is, if you have Christ as your Savior, what more could you possibly want?
What’s wrong with asking your children: “What are you going to give“ this Christmas? Why not encourage your children to make a list, not of what they want, but of what they hope to give to others? Doing so would certainly revolutionize their celebration of Christmas. After all, that is what it is all about, isn’t it? Did not God give His only begotten Son over two thousand years ago, so that you and I could have the gift of eternal life?
What message are you sending to your children this year?