Monday, November 19, 2012

The Best Gift

Spirit & Truth # 298
“The Best Gift”
By Greg Smith

            Well, it’s happened.  Somehow another year has flown by and the holiday shopping season has arrived.  Stores festoon their displays with ribbons and bows, piping in Christmas music to put customers in the purchasing mood.  Black Friday sales have already begun, and shoppers want to take advantage of every opportunity.
            Another opportunity you’ll want to take advantage of is the holiday witnessing season.  Like no other time during the year, believers have a window of opportunity between Thanksgiving and Christmas to share their faith with people who are more open to hearing the good news about Jesus.  There’s something about this festive time that opens people’s hearts to the Gospel.  They may not know what the star of Bethlehem points to, but they think it’s pretty as it sits atop their tree.  They may not appreciate the babe in the manger for who He really is, but they think it’s a beautiful story.  So people’s hearts are more inclined to listen when a Christian friend tells the story of Jesus, and what He’s done in their lives.
            1 Peter 3:15-16a (NIV) says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.”  First, this means that believers should honor Christ as Lord everywhere they go, whether that’s into the mission hall where they serve soup to the homeless, or into the crowded and frustrating shopping lines.  Keeping a clear conscience, Christians should first set an example to others, so that when they see us, they aren’t seeing just another hectic shopper or stressed-out person preparing for holidays.  Our neighbors, and even the strangers around us, should see an example of Christ’s love in the behavior that we show.
            Second, it means that we shouldn’t just demonstrate Christ through our behavior—we should tell about Jesus with our witness.  “Be prepared,” says the apostle.  If you’ve never done so, considering writing out your testimony in advance, so that you have a clear message in your head that you’re ready to share when the opportunity presents itself.  Tell others about the day you met the Lord.  Tell them about the hope that now resides in your heart.  Share with them how important it is for them to accept Jesus as their Savior.  Invite them to receive Him as their Lord.  Be ready to pray a prayer of trust and faith with them—because they might not know how to do it on their own.
            Peter says that your manner of witnessing is important.  Instead of getting up in people’s face, insisting that they recognize that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” give your testimony “with gentleness and respect.”  You’ll go a lot further in sharing your faith.
            This holiday season, go ahead and find the best shopping opportunities you can.  Find the best deals and get the best prices.  But take the opportunity to give God your best as well.  Keep Jesus in your heart everywhere you go.  Be an example of Christ-like love and hope.  Prepare the witness that you’ll give for Him, and invite others into the saving grace of Christ.  That’s the very best gift you can give in this busy, festive, and sacred time.

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