This article was originally published on Dacula Patch in December 2011.
There is a series of humorous commercials on TV right now that feature different people talking about some over-the-top seasonal item they have purchased. For example, one person is on screen sharing that her family has hired their own personal Santa for Christmas, another man describes a high-tech chestnut roaster that he has purchased, and in another clip, a woman is standing with a real reindeer her family purchased for their front lawn.
The point of these commercials is to show how crazy and overindulgent people can get during the Christmas season. The commercial even goes on to lightly chide our holiday materialism by reminding us of what we already know, that the season is marked by too much overindulging and overspending, after which they give us their alternative to our thoughtless superfluity. What is their solution? A new car! That's right, during this season of self-centered materialism what you need is a new car. Huh?
I'm not sure how that advertiser imagines that dropping forty grand on a new car is a meaningful alternative to the overwhelming consumerism of the season, but perhaps irony was what the ad agency was after all along. Who knows?
What I do know is that every Christmas I battle materialism in my own home and in my own heart. There is something about the Christmas season that often leaves me yearning for stuff. New stuff, high-tech stuff, stuff to make the other stuff work better. And there's something about accumulating stuff that fools me into thinking it will give me happiness.
Let me say that I believe we are to pursue happiness. Matter of fact, you may be surprised that God commands our happiness in the Bible. That's why I've entitled this devotional column "Pursuing Joy." But the happiness that Jesus teaches us to pursue is a happiness not found in the accumulation of stuff, but found in an abiding relationship with Him marked by sacrificial giving. Everything Jesus taught was designed to lead us to joy that is overflowing (John 15:11). This is the type of happiness I hope we will all pursue this Christmas.
I saw and experienced this type of happiness this Fall as our church, Harbins Community Baptist Church, partnered with Harbins Elementary to collect food for hundreds of families in need. We all know that these days there are more people in need than ever before, meaning there are more opportunities for us to live out and experience the sacrificial joy of Christ. I know many families that are sacrificing their Christmas mornings this year to do some sort of service project in our community. These families are pursuing true happiness.
You don't have to think too hard or go too far to find ways to experience the joy of giving. So, in this season marked by overindulging and overspending, let's exhibit some overwhelming generosity that leads to overpowering happiness for us, love for others, and glory for Christ.
How will you find happiness this Christmas? Let us know in the comments below.