Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. -Philippians 2:3-4 (HCSB)
Many years ago, someone told me that the way out of any depression or bad mood I might be experiencing was to think of others and take action on their behalf [whether I feel like it or not]. Getting out of myself and thinking of another’s needs (regardless of how bad I might think my problem is) is the best possible cure for self-pity and [sometimes] fearful reaction to any given situation. I always feel better when I am thinking of others and living as Christ compels me to. Like any habit, it becomes more natural the more it is practiced.
A blessing in my life this holiday season has been the few hours I have spent ringing a bell for the Salvation Army. I don’t say this to somehow put forth the idea that I am some sort of “super Christian,’ because I am not. The little bit of effort I put in toward helping others is a mere drop in the bucket when compared to what God has done for me, quite often using loving, generous people accomplish His task. The pay-off I receive from getting involved is immeasurable, to say the least. I don’t know in what capacity I will serve there in the future (once the kettles are packed away for the season) but I hope to find something I can do to help others in some way to ease their burden. It is a blessing and, for the most part, a true pleasure to be involved. I have made new friends and met many people of integrity and true Christian character, as far as I can tell. In my youth, I sought good feelings through artificial means (drugs and alcohol) and that led me down a road toward a very bad life filled with self-centered deceitfulness– let alone physical problems I was beginning to incur. I have since found out that the way to feel good is to help others. It’s one thing to throw a buck in a kettle or make donations to favorite charities along the way and quite another to roll up your sleeves and actually give of yourself in time and effort.
One thing I have learned along the way this holiday season is that serving Christ is a full time job– one that I have not been all that great at doing. The good news is that, with God’s unending grace and support, I am able to rectify that as I grow in my relationship with Him. The more I serve others, the more I see the need to do more! I hope you feel the same way. May God richly bless you and motivate you to service this Christmas season.