Diana Davis: Keep the Christmas spirit going all year long

Diana DavisIt feels so wonderful how the spirit of Christmas adds oomph to life. We live in anticipation and we're even nice to strangers. We become quite intentional about giving to others.

But as we turn the calendar page to Dec. 26, does that Christmas spirit fade? As you pack up those Christmas decorations, consider these five simple reminders to help keep that spirit of joy and generosity at the forefront throughout the year:

Live expectantly.

Anticipation is at a high during Christmas, but a sense of expectancy is a good thing all year long. It keeps us on our toes, helps us use time wisely and reminds us to lean on God. So live with enthusiasm every day of the year. "Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame," Scripture tells us. "Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant" (Romans 12:11-12a MSG).

Be extra nice to strangers.

Are you kinder to total strangers at Christmas? Your job as a Christian is to be God's ambassador, representing Him with your every word and deed. A man yelled rudely at me as I crossed the street the other day, then drove away, sporting a Christian symbol on his car. Take your ambassador job seriously all year long. Be nice to strangers.

Keep giving.

Wasn't it awesome to stuff backpacks for Appalachian children or gifts in shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child? Don't stop. Each month during the year, gift a carefully prepared backpack or box to a local child in extraordinary need. Include a "God loves you" note.

Make a plan.

Use Christmas ministry projects as a springboard to yearlong generosity. Example: Instead of a give-and-run delivery of gifts or dinner for a local needy family, make a plan to show God's love to them all year. Get to know them. Listen to their story. Invite them to church and welcome them. Pray with them. Introduce them to Jesus.

Smile freely.

Christmas season lends itself to joy. Joy isn't seasonal for a Christian. It radiates from inside, and it's there on happy days and desperate days, on New Year's Day and Groundhog Day and every other day of the year. Radiate the joy of Jesus in non-December months.

The "spirit of Christmas" is just not a once-a-year event. It's a Christian's lifestyle and mission. It's our everyday marching orders from Christ.

Exude the true Christmas spirit—God's Spirit—as you live with joy, expectancy, love and generosity. And don't stop on Dec. 26. Have a merry January. And a merry February ...

Author Diana Davis, who lives in Pensacola, is a columnist for the Florida Baptist Witness. Her newest book, co-written with her daughter Autumn Wall, is "Across the Street and Around the World."

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