Once upon a time, there was a man who was “down on his luck”. It was obvious he was hurting. He didn’t need to tell anyone things didn’t look good for him. Certainly one could see that he could be better off.
Opportunities for survival diminished, as people more than able to make the wounded man’s situation improve, carelessly walked by…
But then one, seeing the fallen man’s condition, did more than simply acknowledge his pain. He stopped… and helped. Whatever he’d been doing before that decision became irrelevant as he recognized that man’s moment of need. Instead of passing by, he chose to be a participant in the man’s pain.
The “season of giving” is upon us… but when it comes to helping those in need, it would seem we’re better at turning the other cheek.
- We complain we can’t get our children to brush their teeth, when there are those who have no toothbrush or toothpaste.
- We whine about doing laundry, when there are those who don’t have more than what they’re wearing.
- We lament over all the glorious smells at Bath & Body Works (how can one possibly choose?), when there are those who would love to just have some deodorant.
- We’re inconvenienced when the power goes out and we have no lights, when there are those who have no control as to when there is light or darkness.
- We choose which coat we want to wear, when there are those who give the only coat they have to their child to keep warm on the coldest of nights.
We justify why we couldn’t possibly help… excuses roll off our tongue as to why we just can’t give… and then, we reason by simply shifting the problem to them… after all, I’m sure they did something to get there, right? And, even if we gave “them” money, they would probably just go out and buy cigarettes, booze, or drugs… and then we’d be enabling them to continue their lifestyle because some people just can’t be helped, right? But hey… just to show we’re not completely heartless, let’s throw some change (all 31 cents of it that we got back from our most recent store purchase) into the bell ringers’ red bucket and wash our conscience clean.
Then, after we’ve logically removed all possibility of our hard-earned money slipping from our tight grip of selfishness (phew, that was close), we fall asleep in the shelter of our warm homes, under more than one blanket, dreaming of how cute the children will look in their new matching pajamas as they open their gifts Christmas morning while there are those huddling around a fire outside in clothes with holes, worn out shoes, and the cold pavement for a bed.
Merry Christmas, indeed.
We welcome a tree inside of our home, and deliberately make it more beautiful; hanging lights and adorning it with decorations and top it with a star, as people freeze, starve, and give up hope under the stars less than 5 miles away from our capable hands, and self-serving hearts.
O Christmas tree… O Christmas tree… such pleasure do you bring me…
MERRY MOCKING CHRISTMAS
How can we celebrate a season of giving, when we mock the meaning behind the holiday? And, what might happen if instead of mocking Christmas, we decided to make it a Merciful Christmas instead?… to show compassion toward someone when we could just as easily show harm (ignore) or punish (refuse).
Whenever you are able, do good to people who need help. Proverbs 3:27
Mercy is a choice. In every opportunity, we’re given two options to either do good, or refuse to do good. Mercy isn’t about what someone else has done or what they “deserve”. Mercy is about how we decide to respond. We are either merciful, or we’re harmful… and when we refuse to be merciful, we are actually choosing to allow harm continue.
So…… what if, in the busyness of the season and shopping, we chose to STOP… and help? What would happen if, instead of passing by, we chose to be an active participant in someone’s pain and do what we could to relieve it?
And then… what if we got REALLY crazy, and we decided to make it a way of living this short time we’ve been given on earth?… What if we set aside money and time so that we could do even more to help people in need or show kindness… for no reason other than to encourage them?
We can’t say “Merry Christmas” and then leave the broken, lost, hurting, abused, unloved, unwanted, outcasts laying in the street, drunk at the bar, strung out behind the counter, or selling themselves on the corner. We can’t say we believe in what Christmas represents while walking by opportunities to give hope to someone through simply stopping to give help.
Don’t look around and point out what needs to be done… do something. Don’t wait for someone else to change the world… start making the changes. Don’t say you can’t afford to… start saving (set aside money every week… give up your daily drive-thru coffee stop). Don’t ask why no one else is doing something… start now.
You don’t have to look for someone to help… you run into people every day who are fighting a battle no one even realizes. JUST GIVE. Who knows? Maybe others will follow YOU. Maybe one is all it will take to start a movement that lasts beyond just a season.
Choose to BE ONE. Brainstorm what kind of merciful Christmas could YOU give to someone in need. If the task is bigger than yourself, don’t give up… invite others to get involved!
- Hand out $5 coffee gift cards to strangers you pass by
- Give away $10 Subway gift card, or $25 Perkins gift card to the homeless on the street
- Volunteer at a shelter
- Go out and buy the canned goods and non-perishables YOU would want to eat, and then take to your local food shelf
- Ask God to show you who needs help, and then help when the opportunity shows up!
IF YOU’RE MARRIED…
Talk to your spouse about what you can do together to make a difference. My husband and I LOVE to go out together during the holidays (which are normally so stressful for people), and then leave a ridiculous tip for our server just because.
We have made this specific decision (and sacrifice) because…
- we believe in encouraging others around us
- we want our children to understand and live out generosity and mercy (and we set the example)
- we never know what our simple act of kindness will do when we trust God to use us
IF YOU HAVE KIDDOS…
Remember, you’re children are watching what you DO. Show them the importance of caring for someone else… but don’t just be something that you do during the holidays. Turn it into the very way you live.
ONE MORE THING…
Continue to impact the world throughout the year! Mark your calendar and set a reminder on your phone for the following days…