Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
It might seem weird to start off a post about the Christmas season with a verse like that, but hear me out.
In America, we live in a culture of instant gratification. Basically, we get what we want when we want it and how we want it. Many foreigners and tourists come to the big U.S. cities and roll their eyes at the greediness and commercialism of American society. We are spoiled – there’s no getting around that. The great Queen song “I Want It All” might as well be a second American national anthem.
One of the best Christmas movies is the original animation of Dr Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We’ve all seen it and it is frequently watched on Christmas by millions of Americans. But I wonder, how many Americans actually think about the storyline? Sure, none of us want to be a “Grinch” and “steal Christmas,” but I think we miss the real point of the story.
The part of Grinch that always stuck with me as a kid was when the Grinch has successfully “stolen Christmas” and stands upon his sleigh to look down upon the village of Whoville. But he’s shocked at how everyone in Whoville is reacting to the news that none of their presents are there.
Instead of throwing tantrums and being sad about what they didn’t get, the Whos are standing in a circle holding hands and singing. Regardless of what they have or don’t have, they’re happy. I remember watching that part of the movie as a kid and I teared up quite a bit. Everyone in Whoville was so…joyful. I wondered to myself, “Why can’t I be joyful? Why am I depressed that I don’t get a certain gift?”
There’s a difference between happiness and joy. Too often we mix the two together. Happiness comes and goes; that’s a harsh reality of life. But joy should be a constant thing. I’ve heard many real-life accounts of people who go to third-world countries and see despair and disease everywhere, but they also see joy on peoples’ faces. You don’t have to always be positive or optimistic to be joyful, nor do you have to have the best life on earth. In fact, some people with the fewest material possessions are happier than the multi-billionaires.
For example, I was recently at a friend’s house for the first time. Out of etiquette, I didn’t say anything, but I could tell that she and her dad were struggling financially. But to be perfectly honest, I never would have guessed that when I first met her. She’s a very positive person and is always wanting to help others. She is truly grateful for what she has, even if it’s not as much as other people.
So, this Christmas, don’t be the Grinch. Don’t steal Christmas from others with your lack of joy. Be like the people of Whoville, who were happy even when they didn’t get what they had wished for.