It’s amazing to me that during such a wonderful time of year as Christmas—a celebration that is so significant to our faith—there are Christians who don’t benefit from the season. It’s incredible that we are willing to settle for “getting through” it rather than celebrating it and benefiting from the focus on Christ.
1. Enjoy the season.
Celebrate what Christ has done for you. Don’t let Christmas pass without taking time to worship Christ and to ponder His gracious gift of Himself.
2. Live a reconciled life.
Determine that you will not enter the New Year harboring resentment toward even one person. Romans 12:18 instructs, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
You can’t go through life without having others hurt you, but you can go through life with peace and reconciliation. In most cases, this is as basic as choosing to forgive the offender. Sometimes you may need to meet with that person and work through the problems, or you may need the help of a godly, mature Christian in a complicated situation. It may be that you need to apologize to someone you have wronged. In any case, determine to—as much as is in your power—live at peace in your relationships.
Reconciliation is the message of Christmas. When we are reconciled with God through Christ, we can live at peace with others.
3. Refuse drama.
For those determined to live a reconciled life, there will always be people on the other side of the equation who don’t share their determination—perhaps who thrive on relational drama.
In many homes, there is divorce and perhaps remarriage and step-relatives that muddle the ease of relationships. Sometimes there are obligatory meetings (bringing children over or seeing at family gatherings) with a person who doesn’t want reconciliation—a person who is difficult or demeaning and who wants to stir controversy.
For a dedicated Christian, these encounters are opportunities to die to self. With God’s grace, smile, be kind…and avoid the drama. Refuse to fight back or to get in the flesh. You and I cannot determine the actions of others, but we can control our reactions.
4. Break your bad holiday habit.
I don’t know what your bad holiday habit may be, but I’m pretty sure everyone has one! Perhaps yours is stinginess, compulsive spending, or moodiness.
It’s all too easy to fall into fleshy patterns—in action, thoughts, or spirit—between Christmas and New Year’s. Identify what your struggle may be, and develop a plan for help and victory. List verses that will help you overcome in the moment of temptation, and with God’s help kick the habit.
5. Communicate with others.
Christmastime can bring a level of activity that makes communication essential! In your home, communicate with your family so everyone can work together to prepare for, get to, and be at all the designated events. If you’re traveling or there is a change in your schedule, communicate clearly with any ministry teams on which you serve—when you will be absent, who can cover for you, or any pertinent information.
6. Share the story of Christmas with one unsaved person.
Jesus is Emmanuel—God with us. The shepherds couldn’t hold the news, and neither can the child of God who is focused on Christ at Christmastime.
Sharing the gospel may be as simple as carrying gospel tracts while you are shopping and giving to the cashiers. It may be seizing the opportunity to witness to a coworker or classmate. Ask the Lord for opportunities, and be prepared for them as they come.
7. Make a memory in the life of a child.
I’m taking it for granted that you will make memories with the children who live in your home—that’s what parents do. But I think we forget how many children around us don’t enjoy the “magical” wonder of Christmas. Create a moment to intentionally reach out to a child who needs it—perhaps a child who is neglected, whose parents lost their jobs this year, or whose home is divided. Buy a gift, take them out, give them some time. You will be richer for it.
And if you have children in your home, involve them in this activity. They need to know that this is a season of giving—not just receiving.
8. Be flexible in your expectations.
One reason relational drama can be high at Christmastime is that our expectations tend to soar. We want the Christmas program to be perfect. We want the exact gifts we requested. We want our family gathering to be flawless.
But with all the planning, there builds impossible—or at least unlikely—expectations. Build too many expectations of perfection, and you will find yourself falling apart instead of rejoicing. Be flexible, and you will find more Christmas cheer.
9. Give to Christ.
As the year draws to a close, I have two financial goals: First, I want to be sure I have given more to the Lord this year than I did last year. Second, I begin budgeting my giving for the coming year. This is Christ’s birthday; give to him.
10. Share God’s love with someone in need.
The innkeeper of the first Christmas missed the opportunity of a lifetime when he turned away Mary and Joseph. We likewise miss our greatest opportunities when our lives are too full—when there is no room—to share Christ’s love with others.
Seek out someone who needs God’s love—a widow, an entire nursing home, a single away from family, a homeless person, a child who rides the church bus—and in the name of Christ share love and give generously. “…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
I guarantee you that these ten tips will bring more joy to your Christmas celebrations.