If you’re like me, your e-mail inbox is likely inundated with After-Christmas sales. Take 50% off of this pair of shoes or save $20 on that new smartphone. Just three days ago, millions of people celebrated Christmas and many of them opened gifts on Christmas morning. Yet, the moment after we receive these gifts especially chosen for us by our loved ones, we often rush out to get the latest and greatest items we can afford. While I certainly enjoy shopping, I do find it disappointing that Christmas has become so commercialized. Since when has a holiday meant to celebrate the birthday of a King turned into a holiday filled with questions of “what did you get?” Why should we focus on what we received instead of realizing the overwhelming need to give to others? Giving goes beyond a present tied with a fancy little bow, tucked beneath the tree. We can give love, joy, happiness, and so much more. The very heart of Christmas has nothing to do with something purchased at a store. The very heart of Christmas centers on the One I’m living for, Jesus Christ.

Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. I love every part of this glorious holiday, from the cookies that tame my sweet tooth to the trees that are so beautifully adorned. I also like the fact that I can walk into a store, greeted with Christmas music and a friendly, “Merry Christmas!” from the store clerk. But the greatest part of Christmas is not the twinkling lights or the neatly wrapped gifts under the tree. Why, it’s not even the time I was able to spend in New York City with my dad. Without question, the most impressive aspect of this holiday season is the fact that God sent His Son to be born in a manger. This gift didn’t need to be wrapped or sent via UPS. It was a gift filled with love. It was the gift of eternal life.

When God thought about what to give us for Christmas, He did not send us the latest technological gadget or fashion forward outfit for Christmas. Instead, He sent us a gift that had eternal value. God gave us the best Christmas gift ever: Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. He knew that we didn’t need another pair of socks in our drawer or another dust catcher on our shelf. And while this gift had the greatest price tag of all, His Son’s life, this gift was freely given to the world. God has granted eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ, to all who confess their sins and believe. This gift is offered not just on Christmas, but 365 days a year. A relationship with Jesus Christ will change your life. I encourage you to put your trust in Jesus Christ today. For tomorrow may be too late.

Just like those limited-time, After-Christmas bargains, our lives will not last forever. James 4:14 clearly states, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14 NIV). Life is the greatest gift that we have ever been given. We need to use each and every moment to our best ability, ensuring that we do not waste even one millisecond of it. Having lost many people close to me, including my Mom, I can tell you that life truly is a vapor that only remains for a short time. We have no guarantee of tomorrow. So embrace today. Don’t worry about whether or not that new gadget needs new batteries. And that sweater that’s too big can be exchanged another day. Instead, spend time with your family and friends, not knowing how many more dinners you’ll enjoy together or how many more meaningful conversations you’ll have.

Cherish each moment you have with your loved ones, both now and in the coming New Year. Give them something more than a gift wrapped in a box or a bag. Give them more than a once-a-year present at Christmastime. Give them time with you, give them a listening ear, and give them the one thing we all need: love. Even on that first Christmas night, God himself knew that we needed love. God knew what the world needed most of all. He knew that we needed a gift that would carry us through every day of the year, not just in the month of December. And despite the commercialization of Christmas, not one single thing has changed. We still need unconditional love. We still need a Savior. We still need Jesus.

In Christ’s Love,