Well, the holidays are certainly upon us! Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Christmas, as it does every year, will follow sooner than anyone expects it to. It’s a wonderful time of year, indeed. Homes are filled with the laughter of familiar friends and beloved family. It seems that the best in everyone makes its way to the surface as holiday spirit “fills the air”!
All of these are good and life-giving things. They are to be enjoyed, celebrated, and cherished. However, gentlemen, we are never to forget those who may not be seeing things with our same perspective. That goes for any area of life, of course. But the responsibility seems to be even greater around this time of year.
We are never to forget the cries of the widow whose husband passed last Christmas Eve and she now spends Christmas morning grieving what once was. We are never to forget the groans of the homeless man who finds himself cold, hungry and alone while he watches the ever-broadening smiles of the unaware passersby.
These two examples are such a small sample of the innumerable situations that turn people’s worlds upside down during the holidays. We can all relate to the sentiment that during such a time as this, the highs are higher and the lows are lower. Let us not forget those who find themselves low this year.
I’m not at all saying we are not to enjoy the holiday season with our loved ones. If you are blessed with those wonderful gifts, indeed one of the worst things you can do is neglect them on account of other people’s difficult circumstances. That’s not what I’m suggesting. Family, friends, a warm home, food on the table, love in your hearts…gentlemen I can’t stress enough…these are good things. Meant to be enjoyed fully and sincerely.
I’m simply saying that as we step into this time of year, let us be mindful of those who are not rejoicing alongside of us, for whatever difficulties they are walking through. For me to paint with such broad strokes as to suggest what this should look like in your life, would be to fall woefully short of the importance of your help to those that need what you are able to offer.
I’m not going to simply tell you to give more to your charitable organization in November and December, or to offer some extra help to the elderly woman with her groceries during these cold winter months. These are wonderful things, to be certain, but they may not be practical in your life for whatever reason. No, I’m going to stay away from suggesting specific examples of how you can give of whatever surplus you have this year.
Instead, I want to embolden you fine gentlemen with the reminder that we have a responsibility to care well for those around us. And yes, some seasons of life call for us to give more of ourselves than others. What I’m asking of you today is for you to remain intentional and engaged so that you can be aware of these situations as they arise. Do not stroll through this holiday season with blindness because of all the gifts you have been afforded.
Be understanding. Be kind. Be patient. Be present. Be empathetic. Be generous. Be humble. Be gracious. Be gentlemen.
Let us all be mindful of these things and let us thoughtfully enter into our workplaces, our restaurants, our grocery stores, our churches, our gyms, or our homes…with a disposition of understanding and grace, not of blissful ignorance.
If we do this faithfully, we will find ourselves in many situations that offer us the opportunity to come alongside those who are left broken during these holiday months. Do it with glad and sincere hearts. Not because you believe “what you pour out will be poured back into you 10 fold”. I reject that motivation outright. That is our self-motivated society telling us we must only “invest in things that offer a return”. Absolutely not. Act out of a place of humility, and with the expectation of no recognition, no praise, no affirmation. Do it simply because it’s life giving for them…and not at all because it’s rewarding for you. In fact, I would encourage you more often into situations that force you to sacrifice, and to be uncomfortable. We all have selfish desires and motives no matter how hard we try to act sincerely. But by serving others in a way that is hard for you to enjoy or be comfortable in, we can know we are serving out of the right place in our heart.
We should always be living out our lives with a disposition of kindness towards others and a readiness to help those around us. But I hope that this holiday season you are even more intentional about seeking out ways to pour into the people who need to be filled up.
Now go. Go and be men that act out of understanding instead of ignorance. That love others with grace instead of unfair assumptions. That live intentionally instead of in unaware contentment. Go and set the much-needed example of the shift in thinking that the broken among us are relentlessly longing for.