The Christmas Holidays


The Holidays

We are rapidly approaching the season of the holidays, and many conscientious ones are now questioning what course they may pursue that will be pleasing in the sight of God. By the world the holidays are spent in frivolity and extravagance, gluttony and display. It is the prevailing custom at this time to make and receive presents. And it is no small burden upon the mind to know how to distribute these gifts among friends so that none will feel slighted. It is a fact that much envy and jealousy are often created by this custom of making presents. {RH December 11, 1879, par. 1}

Thousands of dollars will be worse than thrown away upon the coming Christmas and New Year’s in needless indulgences. But it is our privilege to depart from the customs and practices of this degenerate age; and instead of expending means merely for the gratification of the appetite, or for needless ornaments or articles of clothing, we may make the coming holidays an occasion in which to honor and glorify God. {RH December 11, 1879, par. 2}

We advise all our brethren and sisters to make a decided reform in regard to these festal days. Those who appreciate the gift of God’s dear Son to save them from ruin, now have a favorable opportunity to give tangible proofs of their gratitude by rendering to God their thank-offerings. Let old and young lay aside their mites as sacred offerings to God. If we would give to the cause of our Redeemer one-half as much as we have bestowed upon our friends, we would do much good and receive a blessing for giving. {RH December 11, 1879, par. 3}

Let us seek to faithfully represent Christ on the coming festal days by imitating his example as he went about doing good. It is impossible to enjoy the approbation of God while living for self. As Christians who profess a living faith in the near coming of the Son of man, keeping all of God’s commandments, let us make earnest efforts to draw near to God through Jesus Christ, and make a covenant with him by sacrifice. In our principles of action we must be elevated above the customs and fashions of the world. Christ came to our world to elevate the minds of men to the divine level, and to bring them into sympathy with the mind of God. {RH December 11, 1879, par. 4}

As every blessing we enjoy is brought to us through the condescension, humiliation, and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we should render to him our best gifts, above all not withholding ourselves. The infinite sacrifice which Christ has made to free us from the guilt and woe of sin, should work in every heart a spirit of gratitude and self-denial which is not manifested by the world. God’s gift of Christ to man filled all Heaven with amazement, and inspired at his birth the angelic song, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” {RH December 11, 1879, par. 5}

Christmas day, precious reminder of the sacrifice made in man’s behalf, should not be devoted to gluttony and self-indulgence, thus exalting the creature above the Creator. Let us who are partakers of this great salvation show that we have some appreciation of the gift, by rendering to God our thank-offerings. If we would indulge less in feasting and merriment upon these occasions, and instead make them the means of benefiting humanity, we should better meet the mind of God. It is a pleasure and gratification to exchange gifts with our friends; but are there not nobler and more glorious objects for which we may give our means, and thus do good by shedding light upon the pathway of others? {RH December 11, 1879, par. 6}

There are many who have not books and publications upon present truth. Here is a large field where money can be safely invested. There are large numbers of little ones who should be supplied with reading. The Sunshine Series, Golden Grains Series, Poems, Sabbath Readings, etc., are all precious books, and may be introduced safely into every family. The many trifles usually spent in candies and useless toys, may be treasured up with which to buy these volumes. {RH December 11, 1879, par. 7}

Children need proper reading, which will afford amusement and recreation, and not demoralize the mind or weary the body. If they are taught to love romance and newspaper tales, instructive books and papers will become distasteful to them. Most children and young people will have reading matter; and if it is not selected for them, they will select it for themselves. They can find a ruinous quality of reading anywhere, and they soon learn to love it; but if pure and good reading is furnished them, they will cultivate a taste for that. {RH December 11, 1879, par. 8}

Especial efforts should be made to exclude from our homes that class of literature which can have no beneficial influence upon our children. Many times I have been pained to find upon the tables or in the book-cases of Sabbath-keepers, papers and books full of romance, which their children were eagerly perusing. {RH December 11, 1879, par. 9}

There are those who profess to be brethren who do not take the Review, Signs, Instructor, or Good Health, but take one or more secular papers. Their children are deeply interested in reading the fictitious tales and love stories which are found in these papers, and which their father can afford to pay for, although claiming that he cannot afford to pay for our periodicals and publications on present truth. Thus parents are educating the taste of their children to greedily devour the sickly, sensational stories found in newspaper columns. All such reading is poisonous; it leaves a stain upon the soul, and encourages a love for cheap reading which will debase the morals and ruin the mind. {RH December 11, 1879, par. 10}

Parents should guard their children, and teach them to cultivate a pure imagination and to shun, as they would a leper, the love-sick pen pictures presented in newspapers. Let publications upon moral and religious subjects be found on your tables and in your libraries, that your children may cultivate a taste for elevated reading. Let those who wish to make valuable presents to their children, grandchildren, nephews, and nieces, procure for them the children’s books mentioned above. For young people, the Life of Joseph Bates is a treasure; also the three volumes of Spirit of Prophecy. These volumes should be placed in every family in the land. God is giving light from Heaven, and not a family should be without it. Let the presents you shall make be of that order which will shed beams of light upon the pathway to Heaven. {RH December 11, 1879, par. 11}

Anciently the children of Israel were commanded to keep three annual feasts each year: the Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Weeks. The Lord gave directions that on these occasions their gifts and offerings were to be consecrated to him, and none should appear before him empty-handed. But in our day it has become fashionable to observe these festal occasions in a manner that would divert the mind from God instead of bringing glory to his name. Those whom God has blessed with prosperity should acknowledge the Giver, and feel that where much is given much will be required. {RH December 11, 1879, par. 12}

Our holidays have been perverted from their intended use. Gifts are lavished upon one another, and praise which should have been given to God, to whom all these things belong, is bestowed upon poor mortals. {RH December 11, 1879, par. 13}

... Our people are not half awake to the demands of the times. The voice of Providence is calling upon all who have the love of God in their hearts to arouse to this great emergency. Never was there a time when so much was at stake as today. Never was there a period in which greater energy and self-sacrifice were demanded from God’s commandment- keeping people. {RH December 11, 1879, par. 14}

We are now nearing the close of another year, and shall we not make these festal days opportunities in which to bring to God our offerings? I cannot say sacrifices, for we shall only be rendering to God that which is his already, and which he has only intrusted to us till he shall call for it. God would be well pleased if on Christmas, each church would have a Christmas tree on which shall be hung offerings, great and small, for these houses of worship. Letters of inquiry have come to us asking, Shall we have a Christmas tree? will it not be like the world? We answer, You can make it like the world if you have a disposition to do so, or you can make it as unlike the world as possible. There is no particular sin in selecting a fragrant evergreen, and placing it in our churches; but the sin lies in the motive which prompts to action, and the use which is made of the gifts placed upon the tree. {RH December 11, 1879, par. 15}

The tree may be as tall and its branches as wide as shall best suit the occasion; but let its boughs be laden with the golden and silver fruit of your beneficence, and present this to Him as your Christmas gift. Let your donations be sanctified by prayer, and let the fruit upon this consecrated tree be applied toward removing the debts from our houses of worship at Battle Creek, Mich., and Oakland, Cal. {RH December 11, 1879, par. 16}

A word to the wise is sufficient. {RH December 11, 1879, par. 17}


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