by: Gary L. Hutchens
Ready or not, we are full swing into the Holiday season. Thanksgiving day is just ahead. That means that Christmas and then New Year’s Day are not far away. Of course, not all of us view all of the holidays with the same emphasis as do many people, but it can be a pleasant, even rather exciting time of the year. The holidays seem to come faster as the years go by, and preparations for them begin earlier.
Part of the problem, and I think it is appropriate to call it that, is that the holidays have become extremely commercialized. The stores begin marketing earlier and earlier in order to get us consumers in the mood sooner so they can cash in more. As a society we’ve been successfully sold a bill of goods that tells us that we need to spend a lot of money in order to properly enjoy these holidays. Whatever happened to the simple family togetherness aspect of this time of the year, rather than spending huge amounts of money, and often going into considerable debt, to buy all of the right presents? I like presents, and I love to give them. But presents should not be our primary focus. Why don’t we try to focus more on what we have for which to be thankful than on how big a splash we can make with some spectacular gift or collection of gifts?
We all have a tremendous bounty of blessings. The blessing of living in this country as opposed to living in many other parts of the world. There’s probably no nation on earth to which more of the world’s population longs to come than right here where we live every day. Food and water in abundance. A transportation system that allows us to travel virtually anywhere we want to go in a matter of hours. Freedom to think and say just about anything we like. And money. For all of our struggles to make it, spend it and save it, we make more money in a month than many people in other parts of world make in an entire year.
The holiday season is a time which generally stimulates people to focus more on their spiritual lives than during most other times of the year. Again, I may disagree with some of the specific motivations that so stimulate some people, but I’m thankful that something can so stimulate them. Perhaps, while people’s attention seems to be more spiritually focused, the hearts of some will be more receptive and we can touch them with the gospel. If that would be the case, we can be thankful for that. Try to reach out to someone over the next few weeks and see what happens.
What we have most of all to be thankful for is the fact that God sent His Son to die for the guilt of our sins. Through that sacrifice we have the opportunity to be forgiven and saved. We should never take this blessing lightly. In fact, it should shape and direct our lives. If we have everything else- all the money, all the gifts that all the money can buy, all the bounties of living in this land, a loving family, and on and on- but we don’t have salvation, then we have nothing! Nothing compares with our soul’s salvation. Nothing is worth giving up that salvation for (Matt. 16:26). It is so precious that it cost the life of the Son of God (Rom. 5:8). We can be thankful that God and His Son love us enough to have paid that price for us.
Does your life consistently demonstrate that you are truly thankful that Jesus paid that price? Do you know people who need to learn about this blessing and change their lives? Will you do something to help them learn? If you will, this could become the greatest year of thanksgiving they have ever known…
Gary L. Hutchens