Who Will You Be This Christmas?
Every year, the Christmas Spirit goes on sale in the form of cookies, trees, ornaments, fine wine, gifts, wrappings, marshmallows in hot chocolate…and on and on. Billions are spent on ‘feeling good’ during the Christmas season. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, after all. The giving and getting is certainly good, but where does that really leave us after the ‘spirit’ and ‘good feelings’ fade? Do we walk out of the season just as consumers who have experienced the magic of shopping? Or will the season give us a sense of who we really are and what we all should be chasing after this season? Matthew was a tax collector whose life was dramatically changed by an encounter with Jesus. In the first book of the New Testament, he outlines different people who play a significant role in the story of Christmas. Maybe as you read, you will sense the person you can be in this Christmas story that never fades or yields to time.
The giving and getting is certainly good, but where does that really leave us after the ‘spirit’ and ‘good feelings’ fade?
Your story is one of purpose.
Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave Him the name Jesus. –Matthew 1:19, 24-25 (NIV)
The Jewish culture was too important to be left to the whims of the young. Marriages were arranged by the parents, followed by betrothal which was about a year. Joseph’s marriage was one such arrangement with a young virgin, Mary. He, however, wasn’t expecting to be a father to a baby from a woman who never knew a man. He knew reversing his betrothal to Mary would be equivalent to divorce. Though he loved her, he understood the embarrassment that would follow his every step with Mary’s pregnancy before marriage.
The Bible records that young Joseph was a “righteous man” (v. 19) and he refused to follow the advice of the crowd to reject Mary. He knew he was called to a purpose that was confirmed by an angel, no less. He was chosen to be a father and mentor to the very Son of God! Perhaps your story is one of being a Joseph in this world—uncompromising and willing to take on what the world rejects. There’s a bigger plan you fit into this Christmas than the spanking new clothes from the designer store.
Your story is one of selflessness.
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find Him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship Him.” –Matthew 2:3-4, 8 (NIV)
Someone has said, ‘You have an internal dialogue that no one else hears. If you repeat thoughts that you’re not good enough, you can provoke harmful responses and behaviors.’ The wicked and unstable King Herod was controlled by inner fears and a deep sense of self-love. He had to be ‘the’ king. In his mind, his very life depended upon his position, and any threat to that position wasn’t easily tolerated. When the news of the Magi’s quest for the ‘Savior of the world’ reached him, he was certainly not in the Christmas spirit to be shopping for a gift for the Messiah.
Insecure and jealous, he instead called for the Magi and wanted to know the location of this ‘Jesus’ the King of the Jews. The earthly king was at odds with the selfless, heavenly King. Termination was necessary in his mind. Our culture breeds that type of mentality—in ministry, business or sports. Our significance matters more than the story we are called to be in or our service to others. Are we too busy with the ‘wrapping’ of who we are?
Your story is one of a giver.
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. –Matthew 2:9-11 (NIV)
The Magi were the intellects of the day. They were skilled in the arts, in medicine, in the natural sciences, and in philosophy. Their culture believed in astrology and in the accuracy of the stars in predicting destinies. Seeing an unusual star appear, it was assumed that a king of a new stature had been born. The Magi knew that and sought this King as declared by the heavens, and they followed the Star’s unusual north to south trajectory. Once they found Jesus, their curiosity grew into generosity as they gave gold, frankincense, and myrrh, signifying the kingly, priestly, and atoning roles of Jesus the Christ. Little did they know the One who had nothing to offer to the Magi would one day present them with something priceless—salvation.
Will this Christmas prove you to be a bigger giver than a getter?
Nothing captures the spirit of unabashed giving than the words of the famed and wealthy industrialist R. G. LeTourneau (1888–1969) who gave 90% of his income to the Lord’s work: “I shovel out the money, and God shovels it back—but God has a bigger shovel.” Will this Christmas prove you to be a bigger giver than a getter?
There are many other ‘roles’ you can play this Christmas. And each one makes you more like Jesus—the real star of Christmas. So don’t let this Christmas season pass without being grateful for who we are in Jesus Christ and what we have in Him. Christmas is a gift that keeps on giving. It’s the kind of stuff that never goes on sale. It’s free and for the asking. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Have a Merry Christmas!