Dealing with Christmas Guilt

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Where do I draw the line when it comes to guilt? As I’ve gotten older and come to work in a bigger city, I am much more aware of the needs of my community. This holiday season, in particular, I feel so isolated by the tinted windows of my heated car and my coat’s fur-lined hood almost completely covering my face. I feel like I’m quietly dragging a heavy shame as I turn my eyes from what I know is broken and hurting.

I know that, for whatever reason, I am inside with family and warm meals on these cold nights and many others are not. In this season of celebration, I want to put my Christmas guilt under the exposing light of truth and Jesus.

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The Lies I Believe

My guilt is based on flawed grounds. I’ve convinced myself that I won’t be happy if I give up some of what I own. I’ve decided that my service has an end because my resources have an end. When I justify drawing a line before helping those in need, I am defensive against my responsibility to support God’s creation.

Guilt has a hold that prevents me from fully celebrating and glorifying God this Christmas. In reality, people are in need all year long, but it’s usually around the holidays when I actually go out of my way to serve. While this service can still help those in need, it is hardly ever sustainable. Giving out of guilt is not what God wants for us. And how long can it last? When we give from guilt, we give from a place of scarcity. But when we give from the desire to love God’s people with all of our hearts, we give from a place of abundance. This is the wrenching truth that has changed my heart this Christmas.

What We Are Called to Do

Proverbs 31:8 says, “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.” (ESV) This is not merely a good idea to pencil into your calendar for some future convenient date. No, this is a call to urgency in standing up for those who cannot in whatever capacity—physically, emotionally, financially, publicly. Having less does not make you less. And it does not mean you have fewer rights as a human being. Each of us is defined by the declarations of our God beyond of the measures of property.

So where do we start if we lean toward inaction? We start with understanding God’s love. Yes, this can take a while to grasp, through reading, studying, and praying.  But this is the way to embrace the radical generosity that God expects and live by the promise of the fruits of the Spirit. This is the way to let go of giving through guilt and promote a new kind of action. God first asks us to give our hearts. And this is where I feel most convicted.  Giving my heart to God means standing in the gap where others need hope and arresting the apathy that holds my hands dormant. Where our resources run out, our love-driven passion will connect the missing pieces.

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Call to Urgent Selflessness

We must move in our communities this Christmas living out the gospel, in the hope that our urgent selflessness will spread like wildfire to where our individual means cannot reach. We can give more than our bank accounts could ever allow. We can open the doors of our hearts to more guests than we have beds in our houses. We can do so much because through God we have no bounds. In our celebration of the birth of Jesus this Christmas, let’s choose to glorify God by standing up and speaking out for those whom He created.

How to handle Christmas Guilt