“And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” (NASB-The words of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.)
I work at a huge, local gift shop. I watch as people scramble to buy Christmas gifts for friends, co-workers, and loved ones, sometimes laying out one hundred dollars are more at a time. I’ve heard customers say, “I don’t know what to get him since he already has everything.”
As Jesus said in Luke 12:29-31, the nations of the world “eagerly” seek after material things. It seems that people look to this holiday, hoping the general indulgence in gaiety, food, and material gifts will somehow satisfy the deepest longings of their he
arts. But when it’s all over, they find themselves facing another year of striving to find fulfillment and lasting hope and joy through relationships, possessions, sex, success, or many other things. Those things consistently fail to meet expectations.
I recently watched a movie that showed a family opening their gifts on Christmas morning. The mother had given the teenage daughter the expensive designer jacket the girl had been begging for. The daughter tossed the jacket aside, demanding it be given away because it was the wrong color choice. The last scene showed a pile of torn gift wrap littering the living room floor while the family sat, silent and deflated. The youngest child, about seven years of age, leaned against a doorframe and sadly concluded, “I think Christmas is over.”
My parents gave my brother and me Christmas gifts and we enjoyed get-togethers with extended family. However, decorating trees or waiting for Santa Claus were not a part of our holidays. I didn’t need such things to think of December 24th and 25th as a special, magical time. Instead, I learned to believe in and love Jesus, whose birth forms the basis for Christmas.
However, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the grip of materialism, especially at this time of year. I have been struggling financially these past few months. My paychecks don’t stretch very far even with careful spending. If I were not living with my mother and paying pathetically cheap rent, I would be in deep trouble. I have fallen prey to the “I want” syndrome, resenting those who spend lots of money on gifts and fighting bitterness that I barely have enough money for more than essentials.
People may puzzle over what to buy for the one who “already has everything.” If we have Jesus, we truly do have everything. He is not just a fake baby in a manger that represents someone’s religious beliefs nor is he some “silly superstition.” He has brought about miracles of permanent transformation, healing, deliverance, provision, and much more for hundreds of millions of people over the millennia. The Bible is probably the most popular, beloved, and powerful book of all time. Plenty of evidence exists for a logical, historical basis for the Christian faith and the reliability of the Bible if one has an honest, open, seeking heart.
We need several things to fight off the tyranny of Christmas and of year-round striving for meaning: Fall in love with Jesus and seek first and foremost God’s kingdom and his righteousness—his good, pure and loving way of living and doing. Confess and repent of sin and accept Christ’s forgiveness. Yield to his mastery. When we do these things, we are brought back into the relationship with our heavenly Father that our sin and rebellion destroyed and that Jesus died to restore. Our status and incalculable worth as sons and daughters of the Father are irrevocably established. When these things—and not success, or popularity or wealth, become an everyday reality for us, the lure of the world and all its “stuff” will fade away.
May Christmas this year, leave you with lasting peace and satisfaction.