Christmas stories are the best! They really have a way of teaching our hearts about the true meaning of Christmas, when the to-do lists seem to take over the month of December. Even though many of the best Christmas stories involve someone giving a gift, the stories aren’t really about giving. They are about something much deeper; sacrifice.
Think of your favorite Christmas story. What does the hero of that story do that makes an impression on you? Do they give their favorite doll to another child who doesn’t have one, or help a person cut down a tree from their own yard even though the person was initially trying to steal the tree undetected? Does the hero give up all of his new Christmas presents because he feels happier helping others with his gifts than he would if he kept the gifts for himself? Maybe the person has nothing to give their king but a song from the heart. Whether the hero gives a smile, a seat by their fire, a kind word, or their prized Christmas bicycle, the message is the same. When we give our hearts and souls to other people, even if it means some suffering for ourselves, then we find the greatest joy.
Sacrifice Is Worth It
Sacrifice is misunderstood. Many people think of sacrifice as a bad thing because it can cause personal pain or discomfort, so they consequently seek pity when they have to sacrifice for others. Yet, sacrifice is the most liberating action and condition of heart that we can experience. True freedom comes when we become one with each other. When a person willingly sacrifices for another, then their soul has been freely given to the other person.
The book, “Growin’ Christmas,” by Karen J. Ashton, ends with these words, “Petey began to cry. Jim did too.” These two short sentences express the unity of the two real life friends. Other times, they played, laughed, and worked together as good friends do. But on that Christmas day, they cried because of a great sacrifice that cemented them together. They had one heart and one soul at that minute.
To sacrifice is to be gentle, to nurse others in their time of need, to be willing to not only give them truth or help, but to give them our whole souls. The person giving sacrifice gives thanks for the opportunity. They are full of gratitude for the person and the blessing it is to be able to sacrifice for another person and for God.
Gifts and Sacrifices
At Christmas time we search for gifts for others. Why? Do we search for a gift so that we check everything off of our list? When we give those gifts, do we feel best about them? Do we search for a gift that will show something about us to the other person like how fancy we are, or how much we like them? What do those kinds of gifts do for our relationships? Do they seek attention or unify? Or, do we search for the perfect gift because we are really looking for the perfect sacrifice? What does the gift-giving feel like when we know that we truly gave our whole heart and soul to the other person through the gift? It’s different. It’s a feeling that we never forget.
It doesn’t matter if the gift was expensive monetarily or not. It’s the heart and soul behind the gift, the deep friendship and thought, that really matters to another loving grateful heart. Both Petey and Jim cried when only one person sacrificed for another. Their cries show us how to accept the sacrifice of another person. What can we do to better appreciate the sacrifices of those who love us and lovingly sacrifice for us this year?
“Peace on earth and good will towards all men,” the hope of mankind at Christmas time, can’t happen without sacrifice. True peace can only come when a person sacrifices their own will to a greater good than their own desires.
We live in a time of mass contention and tribalism. People are judging others and disconnecting from social interactions (even church) because of differing views on masks, medicines, politics, education, and social/ideological trends. We need to become one, now more than ever before. It’s time to sacrifice. It’s time for the real meaning of Christmas.
We must love those who choose to view us as enemies and give our hearts and souls to those who continue to be myopic about issues and draw social battle lines socially and online. It’s possible to continue to stand for principle and promote freedom while also choosing to see past masks, politics, and medicines, and to see the value and goodness of people again, even if their views don’t match ours.
Social walls will not solve our social problems; only becoming one can do that.
This year, experience Christmas more fully by sacrificing your whole heart and soul for whoever you happen to be with at the moment. Really care. Really smile and talk. Give yourself for Christmas this year. Everyone you meet will feel different when they feel your heart connecting to them. Your heart sacrifice will spread. We need a sacrifice epidemic. Are you in?
That person who bothers you, can’t bother you today. That to-do list or screen can’t mean more than the people today. The screen isn’t worth your sacrifice, but the people are. Look at them in the eyes. Listen with your heart, even if your morals won’t ever align in this lifetime.
Christmas is about people practicing the principle of sacrifice. As we engage in small sacrifices like we do at Christmastime, we become one with others because we are being one with God. We are being His eyes, ears, hands, and feet. Jesus Christ’s eternal sacrifice made Him one with us. If we choose to follow His example and lovingly welcome the opportunity to sacrifice for others, then we allow ourselves to become one with Him, too.
Sacrifice is good. As we sacrifice this Christmas, we will find more freedom and joy—-unless we negatively ruminate on our opportunity to sacrifice. That is a trap. Push those thoughts away. Choose to become one this Christmas; choose sacrifice.