By Mike Hess
From Thanksgiving to Christmas, we followers of Christ can display what these exclusively Christian holidays truly mean. After all, to know Christ is to know unspeakable gratitude (2 Cor. 9:15) and the life transforming power of Christmas (Matt. 1:21).
Let’s consider how we can demonstrate the power of the gospel by not making this time of year about ourselves, but instead using it as an opportunity to serve others.
Here are five ways we can encourage others during the holiday season:
1. Show compassion to those in need. More than likely you know someone who has lost a loved one or you personally have lost a loved one in the past year. There’s also a strong possibility that people in our lives have gone through difficult transitions regarding employment and family. Let’s take seriously the words of Colossians 3:12 to “put on compassion,” giving comfort to and spending our time for those going through a season of grief or pain.
2. Remain faithful to your church. Whether you realize it or not, your faithful presence at church is an encouragement to others. Keep in the groove of faithfully gathering with God’s people—even during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. The need of your heart to be fed from the Word and to encourage and be encouraged by the saints doesn’t cease during the holidays.
3. Share with others the reasons Thanksgiving and Christmas mean so much to you. What a golden opportunity you have to share the love of Christ with a world lost in darkness. We believers are thankful because, by God’s grace, we truly understand what God has done for us in Christ. We celebrate because God has enabled us to understand the precious gift of Christ taking on flesh, being born of a virgin, living a sinless life, giving His life on the cross, and rising from the dead.
4. Reacquaint yourself with passages about thanksgiving and the Incarnation. Take some time to contemplate what the Word says about these important subjects. You could start by looking up psalms of thanksgiving. For Advent you could also read slowly through the narratives found in Matthew 1 and Luke 1—2 to remind your heart of the miracle of God taking on flesh.
5. Show hospitality to others. “Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices” (Hebrews 13:16, CSB). Think of ways you can use your God-given home to welcome and serve others. Also consider how you can use your God-given resources to bless others in ways that show the welcoming love of Christ. This could include a grieving saint, widows, students away from home, people struggling financially, or someone you know in need.
May our theme for this holiday season be “For God’s glory and the good of others.”
Mike Hess serves as national representative of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.