Today I was reading in Luke 3 where John the Baptist comes on the scene and begins his public ministry. He was the one who went before Jesus, preparing the way. The way that John was preparing the people was through preaching a baptism of repentance. He challenged the people to 'produce fruit in keeping with repentance.' Repentance literally means to 'change one's mind or way of thinking.' Repentance goes hand in hand with receiving the work of Jesus in your life. There is a decision that comes from your mind and a willingness that comes from your heart to submit to a new way of living that's different than the way you used to live and the way the world around you lives.
In verse 10-11 it says,
The people that followed John out near the Jordan river were recognizing that God was visiting Israel and that His hand was upon John. They wanted to be a part of this fresh work that the Lord was doing in their midst as it had been 400 years since any true prophet had come on the scene. So they ask the question, 'what should we do then?' John challenges them to submit to a new way of living that Jesus would fully usher in through His life and teaching. He challenged them to give: If you have an extra coat then give it away. If you have extra food than give that away too.
Perhaps any extra of anything we have is a test from God to see if we will live out a generous and compassionate life that produces a blessing in lives around us who are impoverished and lacking. This was how the people were being prepared for the first Christmas and it is still the best way for us to prepare for Christmas 2000 years later.