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Three practices for this Christmas

It never fails. We run around frantically buying presents for our family, friends, and loved ones only for the magic moment to peak amid a flurry of Christmas paper being torn and flung in the air. All too often, someone is disappointed that they didn’t get everything they had hoped for.

Friends, this is not how it’s meant to be. This is not how God intended for us to live. For a happier more satisfying life, consider incorporating these three practices into your life this Christmas.

Practice Simplicity

Our lives have become way too complicated. It often feels like our things end up owning us instead of the other way around. We spend our time and money just keeping them maintained and up to date. The marketing gurus of Wall Street aren’t doing us any favors, either. As soon as we get the latest smart phone or other shiny thing, a new one comes along that beckons for our attention. Meanwhile, little Johnny wants that new action figure and a dozen other things he saw on TV and Susie wants a doll house, new clothes for her dolls and an easy bake oven.

The fact is that we love to own things. Consider what the Apostle Paul said to the Corinthian church,

Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.
1 Corinthians 7:31 NLT

We need to learn how to unclutter our lives and practice simplicity. We need to learn the difference between a need and a want because a simple life is a happier and less stressful life.

Practice Contentment

Do you realize that we train our children to be discontent at Christmas time? In our generosity and love for our kids, as soon as they unwrap one present, we’re shoving another one at them. My pastor told a funny story about how he made his one year old son cry because he took away the toy that he had just unwrapped and was playing with so he could get him to unwrap the next one. The boy was perfectly content with the first present but he was unwittingly being taught to be discontent. I’ve been guilty of doing that myself pretty much every Christmas, haven’t you?

Consider these words from the Apostle Paul,

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5

The downside of wanting more things we don’t really need is that instead of bringing satisfaction when we get them, it breeds desire for even more things. Everything in our culture teaches us to be discontent with what we have and this vicious cycle of discontent seems to be getting worse.

Consider these statistics:

  • The average ten year old in the U.S. owns 238 toys but only plays with 12.
  • Only 3.1% of the world’s children live in America but they own 40% of the toys.
  • There are 300.000 items in the average American home.
  • The average American home has tripled in size over the past 50 years.
  • The average American woman owns 30 outfits. That’s one for every day of the month! In 1930, that figure was 9.

By the way, when a woman says she doesn’t have anything to wear, what she means is she doesn’t have anything new to wear. When a man says he doesn’t have anything to wear, he means he doesn’t have anything clean to wear.

Yes, discontent is a vicious cycle but it’s one we can choose to break free from. The key word here is “choose”. The bible teaches us that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

Practice Gratitude

God wants His children to be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT). So why is there such a lack of gratitude in the world? I think there are a couple of reasons for this.

We have the tendency to lose perspective. When the busyness of life wears us down and we find ourselves exhausted and stressed, we tend to forget how blessed we really are. Do you realize that if you have a bed to sleep in, a roof over your head, and food in your refrigerator that you’re richer than the majority of people on Earth?

Sometimes all we need to do to be content is to put things in the right perspective and thank God for all our blessings.

We focus on the things of the world instead of on the things of heaven. When we let the distractions of the world dominate our time and thoughts we neglect to spend time with the Lord. We opt for another hour of entertainment instead of spending time each day in God’s word. Have you noticed that spending time in God’s word and spending time in prayer makes you feel more content and grateful? I have. If you haven’t discovered this in your life, I encourage you to give it a try.

Just remember that a simplified life breeds contentment which in turn leads to a grateful heart. Compare this to a complex life that breeds discontent and leads to an ungrateful heart.

If you want to be truly happy, then I encourage you to simplify your life, learn to be content with what you have and you’ll find that you are much more grateful for what you already have. And don’t forget to “delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

May God bless you richly as you practice simplicity, contentment, and gratitude this Christmas and all year long,
Daniel

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I’ve been a Christian for more than 40 years. In 2013, I began growing in a closer relationship with God as I turned over more and more of my life to Him and asked Him for wisdom. Since then, I’ve been strongly compelled to share God's word and to warn others that we need to get ready because Jesus is coming soon.

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