No matter how large Saddleback becomes, we never want someone to feel lost in the crowd. We purposefully provide lots of opportunities during the holiday season for one-on-one interactions, such as providing food for the homeless, helping needy single parents buy gifts for their children, or showering struggling families with practical, loving support financially, emotionally, and spiritually.
Simple isnt just beautiful its powerful. I want you to keep this in mind as you make your holiday plans. You dont have to cram your days full of activities, and you dont have to make everything big and complicated. Consider what the Bible says, Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. (Prov. 19:21 NIV) Keep your holidays simple, so you are free to serve those in need and celebrate with those you love.
2. Be there
We give love to people at Christmas when we show up in their lives, serving and celebrating in the name of Jesus (1 John 4:7-9). Our love is not to be limited to just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action. (1 John 3:18 TEV)
One way we tell our families and friends that we love them is by giving them our focused attention. Attention says, I value you enough to give you my most precious asset my time. When you give someone your time, youre giving them a portion of your life that youll never get back. You can always make more money, but you cannot make more time.
Weve replaced true, heartfelt, delightful giving with a hollow materialism that keeps us all overspending during the holidays. Instead, we should give from our hearts. In fact, as a pastor, Id like to see you expand your definition of giving beyond the financial. Imagine how much you could bless others if you simply shared your time and talents.
You dont even have to give something away to share it delightfully with others. For instance, you may have a garage full of tools that, as a gift, you make available to your neighbor or an empty vacation spot that you allow other members of your family to use.
When you dont share, youre keeping others from experiencing the full blessings of God, and youre being a poor steward of all God has given you.
Theres another reason we need to learn generosity in giving: It builds our faith as we look to be generous with the world. Everything we have is a good and perfect gift from our Heavenly Father (James 1:17 NIV), who lavishes on us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ (Eph. 1:3b NLT).
The essence of Christmas is that we simply and humbly give of ourselves, just as God gave generously and sacrificially to us through his Son, Jesus Christ. With this Good News as our center, we can generously show up in the lives of others with our time, talents, money, possessions, and friendship.
Until next time,
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005 Pastors.com, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Adapted from Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox, a free weekly e-newsletter for pastors and church leaders, available at Pastors.com.