It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like… are fast approaching. Soon Americans will be consumed with bargains, sales and shopping in preparation for Christmas. Travel plans will firm up and soon we will be on the road traveling to and fro during work breaks. It really is an exciting time of year and probably my favorite. But let us be careful that we do not forget the really important things of life during the coming month and a half.

We must remember those who are struggling with life. All of us are having trouble right now.  The economy is slow to bounce back, jobs are disappearing and little seems to be happening to improve our lot in life. But every time I am about to start complaining I meet someone in far worse conditions. The is ample suffering in our world, even in Baldwin County. Jesus, our Lord, reminded us to think of others as we think of ourselves (Luke 10:27). The Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12 also directs us to place ourselves in the shoes of the less fortunate.  James comes right to the point when he writes, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).

Experts tell us that depression seems to peak during the holidays. Possible reasons are many but one could be that impoverished people see the apparent abundance in the life of others and then feel saddened that they cannot provide equally for their family. Whatever the reason, let us strive to reach out to those in need. We may not have the money to help financially, but let us try to soothe their pains and offer friendship to the friendless during these times.

We must adopt Godly attitudes towards material goods. Let us remember the Lord’s own words,  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). Our holidays have become more and more about receiving. If we could measure brain activity precisely I wonder what would register higher, how much we think about what we will give someone else or what we will receive ourselves.

Material goods are not inherently evil. It is instead what we think about those goods. Paul said that it was the “love of money” that was at the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). In fact the apostle goes so far as to declare that covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Covetousness is an inner desire or compulsion to acquire something even through sinful means. It is a state of mind that Christians ought battle.

We must not forget our God during the holidays. This may seem an odd statement given that many people will make their once or twice annual appearance at church during the holiday season or because some churches will offer communion at Christmas when they do not at other times. But in fact many people do forget God. How many will skip worship services because they are too busy, too tired or are out of town and not familiar with local worship assemblies (Hebrews 10:25)? How many will skimp on what they give God so that they can buy bigger presents for the children or so that they can finance a trip (Malachi 3:8)?

Ideally, Christians should be so immersed in their faith, so in love with the Lamb of Calvary that they never move him to second place. Let the joys of the season be a reminder of the extreme wealth we all enjoy compared to others. Let us spend the time thanking God and using our abundance to aide his other children who are in need. Let us resolve right now, before the rush begins, to put God first, others next and ourselves last.

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