Thanks for following this twelve-part series, “Twelve Gifts of Christmas.” I pray your heart was stretched as you practiced sharing God’s love and grace with others in simple ways. In case you missed one or two days of the series, all twelve devotionals are provided below. Perhaps you’ll even consider making one of the daily pledges a New Year’s resolution for 2017.
Gift 1 – Give others the benefit of the doubt.
Too often we assume that we know a person’s thoughts or motives. Wrong negative assumptions can easily lead to hurt or angry feelings and escalate a conflict. For today, suspend negative assumptions and give people the benefit of the doubt.
“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Pledge: Today I will assume the best about people.
Gift 2 – Give honor to those who serve you.
Notice the personhood of the people who serve you today—the waitress, the bank teller, the coffee barista, the grocery clerk, the office secretary, the crossing guard. Give them a friendly word, call them by name if you can, and thank them for helping you.
Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. (Proverbs 3:27)
Pledge: Today I will notice and honor every person who serves me.
Gift 3 – Give up your place.
Today is a day for stepping aside and letting others go before you. Let people go ahead of you in line. Give motorists extra room to merge into your lane of traffic. Park your vehicle farther away from the store, and let God decide who will get the closer parking space that you’ve left vacant.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38)
Pledge: Today I will let others go before me.
Gift 4 – Give away smiles and encouragement.
Today God will use you to lift the spirits of people around you. Remember the joyous message of this holy season and let that joy radiate from you in smiles and generous words. Look for opportunities to make eye contact and communicate warmth and acceptance to every person you encounter.
A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news brings health to the bones. (Proverbs 15:30)
Pledge: Today I will be generous with smiles and encouraging words.
Gift 5 – Give a secret gift of charity.
Look for ways to serve others without expecting a reward. Notice what needs to be done and do it yourself. You might pick up trash left by a stranger or return a shopping cart that is blocking a parking space. Let your gift be a secret between you and your Father.
“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:3-4)
Pledge: Today I will serve others and my community in anonymous ways.
Gift 6 – Give practical help.
Today you are on a mission to help others in practical ways. Budget your valuable time so that you have extra to help make life easier for someone else. Perhaps a mom with a stroller needs help opening doors or carrying parcels. Maybe you could help a neighbor rake leaves or shovel snow, or sit with the kids while mom goes shopping. Be aware of the elderly and the disabled around you who could use your assistance.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
Pledge: Today I will offer my hands and my time to people who need my help.
Gift 7 – Give yourself a rest.
It’s difficult, I know, but taking time to rest and rejuvenate is essential if we want to be of service to others. Exhaustion makes us crabby and selfish. Like every good parent, our Father prescribes naps so we can regain our strength and rebalance our priorities. Give yourself the gift of taking a break from your labors and resting in your Father’s arms today.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:31-32)
Pledge: Today I will secure time to be alone and rest in the comfort of my Father’s arms.
Gift 8 – Give a word of blessing.
Words are powerful. Refresh yourself in God’s Word today and let the grace you receive set the tone for your conversations. Resist the urge to criticize and complain. Instead, look for opportunities to bless others with refreshing words of gratitude and hope.
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life. (Proverbs 10:11)
Pledge: Today I will speak in ways that bless and refresh others.
Gift 9 – Give from your treasure.
Take time today to name the many ways in which God has blessed you materially—with money, shelter, food, clothing, transportation. Then choose a way to give a portion of your treasure to a cause or an organization that helps people. Let gratitude and a desire to be generous motivate your gift giving, rather than guilt or a sense of obligation.
“Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)
Pledge: Today I will remember my material blessings and share my treasure.
Gift 10 – Give others your attention.
During this busy season, time and attention are costly. Spend yours today on listening to others and drawing them into conversation. You might comment on someone’s unusual hat or grocery cart item. Perhaps a chatty waitress wants to tell you about her mother’s surgery, or a friend just needs to talk. Your patient attention communicates respect and helps others to feel valued and appreciated.
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)
Pledge: Today I will draw people into conversation and be a good listener.
Gift 11 – Give thanks to God.
Thank God today for his many blessings and especially for his gift of Jesus. Thank him for positioning you to minister to others during this Christmas season and for supplying you with his good gifts of love and compassion. Pray for all the people whose lives have been touched by the Spirit of Christ through your goodwill efforts.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)
Pledge: Today I will thank God for sending Jesus and for his many good gifts to me.
Gift 12 – Give the reason for your hope.
On this final day, be clear in your mind and in your heart who Jesus is and why you celebrate his birth this season. Answer for yourself how believing in Jesus gives you hope and a future, and then be ready to tell others. Confess to someone today how Christ’s coming into the world has made a difference in your life.
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15)
Pledge: Today I will confess to at least one person why I celebrate the birth of Christ.