Post by Kendria Smith
What was your favorite Christmas gift during your childhood? I remember when I was in middle school and my parents bought me my first CD player and the Lion King soundtrack as my very first CD for Christmas. I thought I was the coolest kid on the block and I loved being able to play music or listen to my favorite radio stations when my friends came over after school.
Now that childhood is long behind me, and even CDs are relics of the past, I spend a lot of time reflecting on how the meaning of the holiday season has changed for me over the years. As an adult, I still love to receive and give gifts, but the joy of the season can be overcome with stress as I fight for a parking spot at the mall and fight the crowd at stores to hunt for the perfect gifts for friends and family. Is this really what the holiday is about? Christmas should mean so much more than the fleeting material gifts that we exchange once a year. As Christians, we take time to celebrate Christ's presence on earth and the true value of the spiritual gifts that sustain us every day.
As I celebrate another Christmas holiday, it's the good and perfect gift of peace that continues to encourage and enable me to weather the many storms throughout the year. I am specifically aware of the power of supernatural peace when I come to the end of another year filled with grandiose resolutions and plans for my life that are left unaccomplished. It reminds me that as much as I like to make plans and believe I know what is best for me, God is the one in control. Many times, the only way to come to terms with disappointments in life is to rest in the peace that everything will work out for our good. This is not a one-time experience. Holding on to peace when life does not seem to go as planned is a life-long lesson that produces life-long rewards.
Mercy is another gift that can never go out of fashion. As fallible beings, we continue to make mistakes that require us to ask for forgiveness and to extend forgiveness to others. The ultimate example of undeserved mercy is illustrated in Ephesians 2:4-5 which states, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.” God bestows the gift of mercy to us and it is our duty to pass that gift along to others.
Yet, as the previous verse implies, where would we be without God’s love? Love is the reason God sent His only Son to save a fallen world. This is the essence of the season. Sacrifice out of love produces the outpouring of favor that we all benefit from, yet do not deserve. In 1 John 4:8 we learn that “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” So much of our purpose as Christians stems from this very concept, and in a world that may seem so bankrupt and divided, it is more important than ever to think, speak and act in love, not just in a holiday season, but all throughout the year.
What spiritual gifts have sustained you through this year and how are you passing these gifts along to others?