The first week of advent I spoke of rest, now for the next two weeks, I believe reflection should be the focus. In order to reflect, one must have their mind rested to have a true perspective. The mind must be calmed and not full of the lists or things to do during this Christmas season. As we read the words coming from John the Baptist we see such a great perspective:
John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering their hearts if John might be possibly the Christ. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” Luke 3:7-16 NIV
The first concept in this verse refers to not taking more than you need and giving to others. Needs vs. wants is an interesting concept in North American culture, and especially interesting this time of year. I have found myself overwhelmed with what we actually have compared to individuals that may come from nothing.
Have you noticed how many bags people are carrying in the malls during this season? I often watch and wonder if it is necessary.
Are we getting caught up in the “right” things?
This season, as a family we went through our house and started to get rid of the things that were unnecessary. Toys that are hardly ever played, clothing that is not being worn, and items such as old baby car seats that my children have outgrown. I sat back and thought, we have way too much, how did it get to this? My heart sank, as I know right out of my back door are people that would give anything to have these things. I then thought, what can I do? Where can I give these things?
It is amazing when you ask these questions, someone will appear in need. I believe this is not a coincidence, these situations are meant to happen.
The need came from a wonderful man, who I only met for about 15 minutes who had children that were just the right age for all of these things. He was so very gracious, accepting, and felt like he should give me something for what I was giving to him. But I wanted nothing in return, in fact – I told him he was helping me out! His humble heart had relief in the action I know, and I could see from the look on his face, he couldn’t wait to get home to give these small things to his family…. I wondered that night what the reaction would be of his small children to the new bouncy horse in the house.
I sat back and reflected on what else can I do?
When you reflect on your needs vs. wants do you see abundance?
If you do, then why not take action and give?
The action of giving does not need to be in monetary terms, it could be helping out at a soup kitchen, it could be buying a coffee for the individual that is behind you in line, or saying a prayer for those you see in pain, or even smiling at someone that seems down. To you, this action may be small but to the other it could have made their day, and made the difference.
I believe the state of contentment comes when one realizes that their needs are fully met and in turn realize we are not in control what may happen to us tomorrow. The only thing we can control is our actions. Once we reach this state, we have so much capacity to give. It is overflowing. It is through our giving that a ripple effect occurs. We may not see this effect instantly but it is there.
Sit back and reflect, what can you do? Do you have more than you need?
The second part of this verse in the bible refers to the coming of Jesus Christ; our Savior. As we reflect on this season much of our reflection should be centered on Jesus. This is what Christmas is about. He came to bring us salvation, what an amazing gift in Him.
Over the course of the past couple of years, many times I have felt overwhelmed with what has happened in our lives. Any one event could have sent someone into a tailspin. However, in every one of these situations, I came to Jesus and my Lord God. I presented my requests, fears and anxiousness to Him. I did this because I knew I could not control what was happening, all I could control is the response. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments where I stuffed feelings, or where I would sit and just let the tears flow. But I knew that God would reign, and He had my best interests at heart. God does not want to see His children hurting.
The enemy wants us to get caught up in the “things” of this life. He wants us to live in the “fears”. When we give into the fears our minds cannot rest, be content, or really present in the moment. We also are not trusting in God, that He will meet our needs because our minds are filled with lies and fear.
During this Christmas season, rest, reflect, and take in what Christmas is really about. Our Saviour came to set an example for us, and to save us from the hurts or the pain. Be content in this season, and fill your mind with joy, thanksgiving, love and happiness. Be “present”, because that action in itself makes all the difference.