Dec21WedDecember 21, 2016
My wife and I are introducing a new Christmas tradition to our children this year. Instead of purchasing gifts for them all, we are devoting those funds towards a short family vacation in which they will have our undivided attention. You see, quality-time together is a rare commodity in our house – especially when mom works every Saturday and dad ‘works’ every Sunday.
But before you copy our example or believe that we’re noble for this endeavor, you need to know that giving our undivided attention towards our four children is something that we are not necessary looking forward to! It’s so exhausting! Honestly, it would be much easier to get them more stuff. But it might not be better for them…or for us.
Isn’t it so easy and so tempting to care about material goods and ‘stuff’ rather than the people who are surrounding us?
Yet why is that? We know and confess every Sunday that real, abundant, eternal life is found in Jesus Christ. We intentionally celebrate His birth, His death, and His resurrection. We gather in smaller groups to spur on one another towards faith and good works. Then why is it so tempting to ease into materialism and away from relationships?
I believe that one of the chief reasons is that we forget to follow Jesus’ example of practically serving one another – every day. Our reading this week takes us to Philippians 2 which magnificently highlights the servant-attitude of Jesus. “Though [Jesus] was in the form of God, he did not count equality with god a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking he form of a servant” (Philippians 2:6). The Apostle Paul precedes this verse by describing its practical application, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (v3-4). Selflessly serving others and caring about their interests above our own is how we reject the spirit of materialism. But if we are not willingly serving one another, then our self-centered flesh takes over and every day (not just Christmas) becomes about me.
How do you plan to demonstrate a servant attitude towards your neighbor, your friend, your parents, your children, your husband or your wife this holiday season? Remember that living like a servant will likely require you to give up something precious (your time, your comfort, your control, your spot on the couch, etc.). But isn’t the exchange worth it? Jesus promised that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35)…and it is!
As we celebrate the incarnation of Jesus Christ this week, let us consider how we can live into His example, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and serve another even when it’s costly. Perhaps we’ll come to recognize that serving one another is a much more valuable, and longer-lasting gift than anything money can buy.