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Why serving others this holiday matters more than we think

By: amanda thompson

This Thanksgiving, I sat by an empty chair.

My family, like all families, crams in our modest house for holidays. It’s a blur of jutted elbows, stepped on toes, and mismatched chairs. Our holiday gatherings aren’t the most spacious, but we make it work.

A few years ago, my grandfather passed away leaving one chair empty at our table. Each Christmas and Thanksgiving since, that chair has represented him and the loss to our family. Time passed, wounds healed, and now there is space at our frantic holiday gatherings.

The holidays, more than any other season, presents us with opportunities to serve people. My family has space at our table. And even if my grandfather was still with us, we would have room. We still have food and gifts. We still have a lot of things the Lord has so graciously given us.

Who could be sitting in that chair? Who could eat our way-too-much-food and be a part of our little too off-kilter family? More importantly, would we be willing to open our hands and give?

Serving others, especially strangers in need, can be uncomfortable. But when we step out of our realm of comfort, God shows us something new about Himself.

Why Should We Seek to Serve?

God is always doing something in our lives and in the lives of everyone around us. He intersects our paths with people at just the right time to the benefit of everyone. What happens in our lives is never just about us.

Proverbs 28:27 says “Whoever gives to the poor will not want.” As we give of whatever we have, the Lord gives to us — more peace, provision, hope — whatever it is we need at the time. Opening our hands from whatever it is we are holding releases the power of God in our lives to provide more than we can imagine. Giving is a way we release control of our lives and trust God to do more than we could.

Deuteronomy 15:11 says,“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites…” There will never be a shortage of people to serve.

There are many who are financially poor, lacking basic physical needs like food, clothing, and shelter. Others are relationally poor, finding themselves far from home or without family. Some are emotionally spent after a tough year, and facing the holidays makes their burden even harder to bear.

Ask these questions: Who around you is lacking? Who has a gap in their lives?

The lonely may need a family. The disheartened may need encouragement. The poor may need provision. And you very well may have what they need.

Why Is This So Uncomfortable?

In our minds and on our social media accounts, we picture pajamas and abundant food and full stockings. And often, giving away our things, our time, and our money changes that picture.

We have a default setting — a way that is “us”-centric. Jesus works in our hearts to make us “others”-centric. Faith is about change. If our faith is growing, we will not stay the same. We will not do things the same way we always have. The Lord will push, prod, press in on us. He will lead us straight out of comfortable and into growth.

Why Not You?

We all have something to give. Jesus has blessed us beyond anything we deserve. The real gift comes to us when we give it away, even if, especially if, it is uncomfortable.

Jesus stepped out of His comfortable home in heaven and into a messy, uncomfortable world. The more we do the same, the more we will understand the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

Jesus stepped out of His comfortable home in heaven and into a messy, uncomfortable world. The more we do the same, the more we will understand the sacrifice Jesus made for us. And wouldn’t the best gift this holiday season be a greater picture of who Jesus is?

My bank account isn’t flush, but this holiday season I do have an empty chair.

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