There's never a time when I am more grateful that God instructed us not to judge than I am around Christmas. As I pick out gifts for family, it's easy to feel the kind of love, joy, and expectancy that gift giving inspires. But, they aren't the only ones I choose to give to every year. On my list every year there are a few people that I would have gladly left off at one time. Now I choose to spread the love, light, and life that Jesus so perfectly modeled for us, even if it's just through homemade banana bread with a red bow on green cellophane, even if it is just a card. Giving small can mean something big and now that I have the relief of not having to decide who deserves my love and generosity, I am free from the stress of that particular decision making.
I know it can be easy to buy into the idea that you are pressured by someone or something to make sure you stress yourself and your finances to the limit but that is about as far from scripture as you can get without committing a felony. Many of us still have a WWJD bracelet kicking around in the back of a junk drawer or jewelry box so if that's you, let's pull it out and think about that. What would Jesus do....
Sometimes it's easier to first cross off the things that Jesus wouldn't do. I can say with a certain amount of certainty that Jesus would not run up credit cards that he wasn't able to pay off, so let's not do that. Jesus most certainly wouldn't damage his peace of mind with running around to every store in a state of absolute anxiety looking for the best price or exact model that he already knew was sold out. I can't imagine Jesus staying awake nights with guilt over not buying an expensive gift for every single family member regardless of their distance, he certainly wouldn't beat himself up about forgetting to mail a card to a cousin or not knowing the proper spelling for a new in-law.
As a person, it is easy to get worried, stressed, and generally overwhelmed by the "to-dos" and forget why you are celebrating and participating in the holiday in the first place. Or, maybe, you don't know why. Have you ever thought about it? Why do you celebrate Christmas? Most often it is because your parents did, or because your spouse does. When we start to consciously decide and sift through our reasons and motivations, Christmas begins to get, well, simple.
I celebrate for a number of reasons but none of them are the things that used to overcome my season. All of them are a celebration of the lessons and legacy that Jesus commanded us in and left us with, to love one another.
When I bake cookies for a Christmas party or go out in the crowd to buy my son a new bike that fits how tall he's getting or wrap banana bread in cellophane and put that red bow on top, I'm doing it because love is why I celebrate. Jesus is the reason I celebrate. Remembering that love is my only commandment makes it impossible to decide if someone is undeserving or unworthy and rules out any hope of indulging in hatred or spite which leaves me feeling free. That judgement is one thing that I can cross off my list for this year and every year, that part isn't my job.
Even though Jesus was never physically a participant in the holiday we celebrate as Christmas, it's relatively easy to see what he would not do when you look at what he spent his life doing. Condemning hate, self-loathing, greed, and hypocrisy while he taught generosity, kindness, and above all else, love.