Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High. . . . I will deliver you, and you will honor me. (Ps. 50:1415)

WE MAKE THINGS COMPLICATED. We have taken the simplest and most powerful story on earth—a peasant woman giving birth to the Son of God in a stable—and turned it into the most stressful time of year. A first home of mud daub and straw has given way to ten thousand light displays, motorized Santas, and glamorous decorating contests. Gifts meant to pay homage to a holy King are now mimicked by big TV sales, the unveiling of the latest digital device, and commercials for cars sporting enormous red bows.

What did we lose by adding so much to the celebration? Humility. Gratitude. Faith. We lost the confidence that God’s pure love for us is more than enough. What we have done with Christmas is a picture of what we often do with our patterns of worship. The more steps we add, the more schedules we tighten, the more rituals we perform—the further we remove ourselves from God’s heart in the matter.

If we are genuinely thankful, deeply respectful, and true to our word—He is amply pleased. We don’t have to perform six more steps to make our cases. The excess motions and unnecessary window dressings don’t disguise our true hearts. His focus is on our motives, not our actions. Our sincerity will always summon His abundant faithfulness.

Prayerfully search your life and honestly determine whether you’ve replaced true honor with too much motion.

Karon L. Storment lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with her husband, Jim. Together they direct Bethany House Ministries.