Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: the former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely […] but the latter out of love […] What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice (Philippians 1:15-18).

One morning, I was reflecting on what has besieged our culture around Christmas time. I found myself frustrated at what is commonly known as the commercialization of Christmas. That is, the real meaning of Christmas, God Himself putting on flesh and dwelling among us for purposes far too large to expound on here, seems to be lost in a flurry of “stuff.” Most every store will be decorated and will have a multitude of displays, all aimed at increasing consumerism, all aimed at telling us what we or someone we love cannot live without. An almost constant barrage of multisensory appeals marks this season, and I was resentful and critical. But on this morning, I considered a different viewpoint. What if there is a larger purpose than can be imagined in all this? What if even the “selfish ambition” connected with commercialization serves to distinguish this season? All the hoopla, “whether in pretense or in truth,” serves to celebrate a miracle: the birth of our King.

While not advocating outrageous spending, especially such that incurs debt, I offer to you that God gave the most costly of all gifts when He gave His Son. He so loved that He gave. This season, instead of pulling out a checkbook or a credit card to make random purchases in a frenzy, give that which is precious to you. Give what costs you some thought and effort. Give what costs you time before the Lord.

God made clear that we are to be relentless in going after our family. The time is short, and we want them all to be in the Kingdom. Rather than being short-sighted during this season, be Kingdom-minded, always being extravagant in your love for them and in the grace of God you demonstrate toward them. Love, because He first loved you.