The season of chaos – I mean joy – has begun. We have kids and grandkids here and coming. The table (and the floor around the table) in the dining room is littered with craft stuff. 800 shoes are scattered in the front foyer. Most of the time there is a cacophany of kids voices and parents saying, “No, not right now. Hold on! Don’t open that drawer! Don’t rip that off the Christmas tree!” There are presents to wrap, meals to prepare, and 8,000 Legos all over the floor to pick up. Who has time for goals for the season? Well here are 3 things to shoot for to bring you joy in the Lord.
Joy Producing Goal #1: Delight in the Lord
It is so easy in the madness – I mean fullness – of the Christmas season to get caught up in all we have to do – gifts we need to get, meals to prepare, rooms to get ready for family members, etc. that we can forget to keep our eyes on the Lord. As much as family and friends bring us joy, the ultimate source of our joy is the Lord.
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. Psalm 43:4
God alone is our exceeding joy. As much as you can, keep looking to him during this season. Look to him as you wash the piles of dishes after the Christmas meal. Call on him for strength to pick up all the toys scattered all over the floor. Praise him for children and grandchildren, friends and family.
Maybe you don’t have friends and family coming. Even if you happen to be alone, or sick or suffering, ask the Lord to help you delight him. I cannot fathom what many of you are going through, and I can’t imagine how hard it would be to delight in Jesus while in pain or sadness. I have seen many of my friends and some of my family members, in the midst of terrible suffering, looking to the Lord for his comfort and hope. This is delighting in the Lord, and brings him glory. Jonathan Edwards said:
“The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted.” –Jonathan Edwards
And John Piper puts it this way:
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” (p. 21)
So the best way to enjoy Christmas and the best way to glorify God in this season is to keep our focus on him and delight in him.
Joy Producing Goal #2: Be the biggest servant in the house
And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45
Jesus, who is infinitely great, the one who deserves that all serve him, did not come to be served but to serve, and to serve to the ultimate degree by giving his life for sinners.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:3-7
It is so easy for me in the Christmas season to just want to lay down on the couch and go to sleep rather than helping set the table or doing a craft with the grandkids. But I want to be like Jesus, and look to the interests of others. I need his grace to do this, but when I do, he never fails to give me strength and fill me with his joy.
I love what James Dobson says:
My legacy doesn’t matter. It isn’t important that I be remembered. It’s important that when I stand before the Lord, he says, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ I want to finish strong.–James Dobson
Jesus’ disciples obviously didn’t understand true greatness until Jesus taught them that if they wanted to pursue greatness they should seek to be the biggest servants they could be.
And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” Mark 9:33-37
One of the principal rules of religion is, to lose no occasion of serving God. And, since he is invisible to our eyes, we are to serve him in our neighbour; which he receives as if done to himself in person, standing visibly before us. – John Wesley
When we serve others, God “receives as if done to him in person” – I love this. So try to be the biggest servant in the house this Christmas.
Joy Producing Goal #3 Don’t grumble or complain
It is so easy to start to grumble and complain during the Christmas season. There’s so many presents to buy, so many lines to stand in. So many dishes to do. So many lights to hang (I know some people love decorating. I would be happy if all we did was hang one wreath on the front door. It’s so easy to murmur and complain. But God tells us:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, Philippians 2:14-15
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4.9
Zig Ziglar nails it:
Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems. –Zig Ziglar
And Dennis Prager adds brilliantly:
Complaining not only ruins everybody else’s day, it ruins the complainer’s day, too. The more we complain, the more unhappy we get. –Dennis Prager
Grumbling and complaining, even if you don’t do it out loud, will only make you more miserable. And when you think about it, most of what we grumble and complain about is a result of how blessed we are in this country. Are you stuck in traffic? It is because God has blessed us so much almost everyone can buy a car and gas. Do you have tons of dishes to do? It is because God has blessed us with so much food. If you think about it, many things we grumble about are a result of God’s kindness. That’s why what Monica Johnson says is so true:
Complaining is an insult to God. –Monica Johnson
So what is the antidote to complaining? Giving thanks all the time, as much as you can.
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1
There you have it. 3 simple goals for this Christmas season that will bless the Lord, others and you too!