Ever since his divorce several years back, my friend Ron has complained to me this time of year about the upcoming holidays. He has his reasons, to be sure, but he’s begun to sound like a broken record.
“It’s just not the same,” he moans. “With my wife gone and my kids living far away, it’s always an agonizing time for me.”
Then he typically cites the gluttony, commercialization, overspending, and other holiday sins as justification for his negative attitudes. You’ve probably met people who think like that.
“Let’s face it, Ron,” I sometimes tease him. “With your ‘humbug’ attitude, your parents should have named you Ebenezer!”
A few weeks ago, he threw in a new line that really got me thinking. “I wish I could just press the fast forward button and wake up on January 2,” he told me. Although part of me sympathized with Ron on this, I spent some time praying he would gain a new perspective.
Then suddenly it hit me: Thanksgiving and Christmas aren’t just ordinary holidays. They represent two of the most important attributes of a happy, successful, and impactful life.
Let me explain…
If you asked me the most important attitudes a person could ever cultivate, my answer would clearly be gratitude and generosity. Although I’ve lived more than six decades now, somehow I overlooked the fact that these are exactly the core principles behind Thanksgiving (gratitude) and Christmas (generosity).
Notice that gratitude and generosity are both magnetic traits. People in the secular world or the New Age Movement call this “The Law of Attraction,” but it’s a Biblical principle too. Gratitude and generosity attract blessings and favor to our lives, both from God and from other people.
In contrast, blessings and favor are repulsed by ingratitude and stinginess. No wonder Scrooge didn’t have many friends until his epiphany came.
Through gratitude (a heart of thankfulness) we enter into the gates of the Lord’s presence (Psalm 100:4). And have you noticed how people love to give things to a person who’s truly grateful?
Likewise, generosity is one of the primary keys to a life of blessing and impact. Proverbs 11:24-25 (NLT) beautifully points this out:
Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
Do you want to prosper? Then set your heart on becoming more generous.
Do you want to enter into a time of refreshing in your life? Then make it your aim to refresh others.
More importantly, do you want to become more like your Heavenly Father? Then one of the very best ways is to become more generous. You see, a central character trait of your Father in Heaven is that He’s a giver. “God so loved the world” that He didn’t just think more positive thoughts toward us – He gave His Son! (John 3:16).
If you truly see how loving and generous your Father is, you’ll be that way too. But if you view Him as stingy and miserly, you’ll end up behaving like Scrooge and having a miserable life to show for it.
So, what about Ron?
Armed with this new understanding of how Thanksgiving and Christmas mirror God’s two major character traits for a happy and holy life, I’ve been endeavoring to help Ron gain a new perspective.
“Ron, you may not like every aspect of the holidays,” I’ve told him. “But what if you used Thanksgiving as a monumental opportunity to work on your gratitude? And what if Christmas became your yearly reminder to live a life of generosity?”
It may well be that next year at this time, Ron may have the same negative feelings. But who knows? If he truly begins to practice a life of gratitude and generosity, he may be in a totally different place emotionally – more free than he was before, encouraged, maybe even joyful, if I dare say. That would be amazing, but miracles really do happen … especially when we’re consistently grateful and generous.
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