The words of Luke 2 serve as the unofficial soundtrack of the Christmas season. You can hear them recited in everything from your church’s nativity play to A Charlie Brown Christmas. Yet there’s another passage written by Luke that offers a different approach to the Christmas season: “By all these things, I have shown you that by working in this way we must help the weak, and remember the words of the Lord Jesus that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35).
Luke is quoting the apostle Paul as he exhorts the elders of the church at Ephesus. There is nothing obviously Christmassy about his words, yet they perfectly encapsulate the essence of the season. They also offer a blueprint for creating opportunities for outreach during the Christmas season. Here are four phrases to consider if you’d like to become a missionary this Christmas.
The apostle Paul set an example for the Ephesian believers by rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty. He worked—hard—on their behalf. He sacrificed his time, energy, and strength to make life better for the Ephesians.
If you’re serious about becoming a missionary this Christmas, your first step is to treat the season as anything but a holiday. Plan to work on behalf of others. Find jobs that need to be done in your community, and set about trying to complete them. For maximum impact, recruit your family and friends to help you. See how useful you can make yourself this Christmas season.
You’ll find that when you work to improve the lives of others, you earn the right to be heard. The apostle Paul understood that hard work is one of the most valuable tools in a missionary’s toolbox.
If you labor without a purpose, you’re just killing time. The purpose of Paul’s labor was to make life better for the lost, the poor, the needy, the disadvantaged, and the forgotten. And while every day is a good day to support the weak, the Christmas season offers unique opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives.
The first step in making a difference is to notice people and their needs. Talk to people in your community who are struggling. Establish a rapport with them. Show genuine concern for their well-being. Invite them to share their struggles with you, if they’re comfortable doing so. Find out what you can do to help.
Volunteer at a homeless shelter. Organize a fundraising event for the less fortunate in your community. Gather a group of workers to do household repairs for a family in need. Arrange transportation for elderly people who have no way to get to doctors’ appointments or to go Christmas shopping. Reach out to people in need.
We celebrate the life of Jesus Christ because His life and message changed the world. It was Jesus who said the following:
The best way to embrace the true significance of Christmas is to follow His instructions to carry His message to people who need to hear it—during the holiday season and beyond. By identifying so closely with the poor, the needy, and the outcasts of society, Jesus gives us the opportunity to give Him a gift this Christmas. Everything we do to benefit people who are struggling—every word of hope we deliver—resonates with Jesus, as though we’re doing it specifically for Him. Our gift to Him this Christmas is to show the loving concern for others that He showed to us.
If you commit to becoming a missionary this Christmas and focusing on the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of others, you’ll discover a remarkable aspect of our creation. You’ll find that God, in His infinite wisdom and generosity, has wired us in such a way that we receive pleasure and fulfillment from doing good for others. In fact, no matter how much other people benefit from our missionary activities, we always benefit more.
So if you’re looking for a truly unforgettable experience this Christmas, become a missionary where you live.
In the mid-1990s, a multi-denominational team of more than twenty-five of the world’s foremost biblical scholars gathered around the shared vision of creating an English Bible translation that could overcome old challenges and boldly open the door for new possibilities. With the first edition completed in 2001, ongoing revisions based on scholarly and user feedback in 2003 and 2005, and a major update reaching its final stages in 2019, the NET’s unique translation process has yielded a beautiful, faithful English Bible for the worldwide church today.