Christmas is not the holiday to begin a gift list strategy. The holiday leading up to Christmas is the perfect opportunity to get my mind thinking of gifts. In order to make the most of the spirit of Christmas, I need to begin in earnest, way before December.
The gift list I have in mind for this Thanksgiving season is not the same as the one usually made for Christmas. Instead of considering what gifts to buy for family and friends, I am making a list of what has already been given. I am considering the gifts in my life that have been the most wonderful, none of which were purchased in a store or online.
Mind you, these gifts were purchased, but by something much more valuable than currency, and from somewhere far more dramatic than at a mall. It has less to do with “Black Friday” and more to do with “Good Friday”.
Because of the precious blood of Jesus shed on my behalf all those years ago, I am able to be richly, wonderfully blessed with gifts that are beyond measure. Psalm 100:4 tells me to “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name”. So for this reason, I am going to spend this Thanksgiving focusing on what I have and not what more I want.
My Thanksgiving gift list begins with what I could never do for myself. I am utterly helpless at earning my salvation through any attempt at good works. My position before a Righteous and Just God is by the justification of Jesus. John 3:16 teaches me about God so loving the world that He gave His One and Only Son and whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
Next on my gift list is my ongoing sanctification. God loves me too much to leave me the same. I am so grateful for the continual change happening to me. I already know the misery and hardship I can bring upon myself through my own foolishness. Hebrews 12:7,11 explains that I am to endure hardship as discipline, that God is treating me as His child and that no discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
I am also counting the family of God high on my gift list. I have been especially mindful recently how privileged I am to be a member of such a family. Whether people in my blood-related family or church family or community, these other believers help me beyond what I could hope for. They make my work day enjoyable, my week more meaningful, my year more memorable. They help me to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. They rejoice with me when I rejoice and mourn with me when I mourn ( Romans 12:12,15). I have been humbled equally by others going out of their way to help me/my family or when I go out of my way to help other believers. Both times bring richness to this journey in life.
Last on my list , for now anyway, is the glimpse of some spiritual fruit long, long in the making. Whether in my own life or in those I love, it is sweet to my soul, most certainly a gift for which I cannot take credit. Galatians 6:9 encourages me to not become weary of doing good, because at the proper time I will reap a harvest if I do not give up. Because I can become so easily discouraged by lack of progress, it has been uplifting to see a little bit of fruit this side of heaven.
Yes, this Thanksgiving gift list is the perfect way to prepare my heart for the onslaught of materialsm associated with the holiday season coming ahead. I am readied now for the true spirit of the Christmas season, when I celebrate the greatest gift, a Babe in a manger long, long ago.