My buddy, Albert, and I team up for various musical occasions in our church. We especially enjoy the privilege of manning a Salvation Army kettle and playing music there each year at Christmastime. My musician friend brings his violin, and along with my guitar, and sometimes the voices of his wife and daughter, we sound out the tunes of the season. But unfortunately, I have had some rather disturbing things revealed to me.
I recall a time when we were stationed just inside the local plaza doors in front of the liquor store entrance. Good location, eh? The front of the store was all glassed in, so we could see all the glittering bottles attractively displayed, with bright labels and ribbons.
I couldn't help but notice the amount of money that people were spending and the quantity of liquor that people were carrying out the door, by the boxful, compared to how little was ending up in our kettle.
Resentment rose up in me as I thought of all the individuals and families who are helped by the Salvation Army, with the money collected in those kettles. I also wondered how many individuals and families would be harmed through alcohol consumption this year.
The next evening, we had a similar experience, at a location next to a lottery booth. I witnessed hordes of cash being spent on lottery tickets, while only a few dollars made it to the kettle.
The whole experience was redeemed, though, when a gentleman gave his daughter a five-dollar bill to put in the kettle and said that the Salvation Army had helped his brother to get rid of a drug problem. Also, a sweet little girl came up and put a nickel in the kettle and wished me a merry Christmas. Afterwards, my frustration melted, and I found myself praying for those who missed out on the blessing of giving generously.
At Christmastime, we Christians need to watch our own attitudes, rather than becoming caught up with frustration, resentment, and judgmentalism towards the attitudes and actions of others. May God forgive us!
Colossians 3:12-15 – Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. (NKJV)
Prayer: Father God, we pray that our hearts will be softened this Christmas with attitudes that offer forgiveness and generosity to those less fortunate than ourselves. In Jesus' name, we ask. Amen.