My wife got her Christmas present last October. Norma's not a great one on surprises; so when we saw something she liked, we bought it then. She said it can also be for her January birthday. So I have two gifts taken care of.
Some people, of course, wouldn't like that approach. They know what they want, but they won't tell. They wish to be surprised and hope you're smart enough to catch their hints. But watch out if you're wrong!
Our Christmas wants probably originated in lists we made as children. Even those of us who didn't believe in Santa Claus still made up our lists. Thus the focus of Christmas too often was on getting rather than on giving, and it is hard to break the patterns.
So when Christmastime rolls around each year, we still make lists of what we would like to have. Maybe they're mental lists, but many people make them. We so easily forget that the true spirit of Christmas is in giving, not in getting.
"Freely ye have received, freely give," Jesus told His 12 disciples when He first sent them out (Matthew 10:8). So the emphasis for the Christian is not on what I would like to receive but on what I already have received and on what I can give.
Unfortunately some Christians keep the emphasis on receiving. They bow before the Lord but also before the god of materialism, attempting to use religion as a formula for getting favors and finance from God. Their wish list is a year-round project. They think that if they push the right buttons and say the right things, God will respond.
Personal Christianity begins with accepting a gift — the Gift — that God gave the world on that first Christmas. God's love provided the Gift; His mercy leads us to accept the Gift, His Son Jesus, who died for the sins of the world.
Personal Christianity continues with making that Gift known to others. We do this through our testimony and through the way we live. And the Christian's lifestyle is the way of self-denial, not of self-interest and self-satisfaction.
So at Christmastime let our emphasis not be on what we want but on counting the blessings we have already received. Here are some starters: salvation from sin; God's Word in a form we can understand; hope for today-and tomorrow; peace that passes understanding, even in a world of uncertainty; joy that doesn't depend on outward circumstances; life; friends; loved ones; love; strength for the tasks of the day; work; being needed by someone; a home in heaven-and heaven on earth because of Jesus. That's just a beginning. There is a lot more.
Because you have received freely, give freely to others. Make this your most meaningful Christmas ever by sharing. Share Jesus and the good news of Christmas. Share the other blessings He has provided for you. You'll find your Christmas wants are for others, and you' ll be far more content.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the Pentecostal Evangel.