I do love Christmas, but if I’m honest, it’s the season when I do lots of lying. My motives are mixed up, at best. Maybe you’re nothing like me … or maybe you are.
- I decorate the house and say it’s for my family … but I suspect it’s a lot about me.
- I bake sand tarts “for my family” … and then eat enough to fill a sleigh.
- I shop for gifts to give to loved ones … but the people pleaser in me rises like the star in the East.
- I drop money in the bell ringers bucket … to help the poor or to ease my conscience?
- I insist on buying ribbon for packages … so people will praise my creativity.
- I celebrate Advent to turn my thoughts to Jesus … and make myself feel better about my excess.
Being honest doesn’t feel very festive, and who wants to be the Scrooge at the beginning of December? Not me! After all, is it wrong to do things that bring me joy? Is it wrong to please the people in my life? Can’t I do good in Jesus’ name? Is it wrong to arrange strips of burlap around a tree we killed and propped up in our living room? No. I don’t think it’s wrong. Depending on WHY I do those good things, it can be beautiful and worshipful and glorifying. And maybe it’s all part of having one month that’s so different from the other 11 that it changes our focus to one of celebration and keeps sounding out “christmas” and “Christmas” and “CHRISTmas” again until our hearts are where they should be.
John the Baptizer and some of his followers were having a “Christmas debate” of their own … sort of. They were arguing about what to do with ceremonies, in this case, for cleansing. John revealed the secret to putting ceremonies (or traditions or holidays) in their rightful place.
“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else.” (John 3:30-31 NLT)
A lot of people have tossed out Christmas and decorations and all things red and green. Maybe they just love Christ more or maybe they are just really holy … or maybe they’re trying to ease their conscience or feel better about their excess. But before you take your tree to Goodwill or humbug the holidays, think about this: maybe embracing Christmas on the outside is a way to find CHRISTmas on the inside. After all, God isn’t judging us by who has a tree or who bakes homemade cookies, He’s looking on our hearts.
Christmas from God’s point of view
Maybe you’re like me and you love Christmas, but you suspect you’re more of a grinch than an angel. The Lord once gave helpful words to a God follower named Samuel who needed to know how to make a decision. “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7b)
This CHRISTmas, I plan to celebrate, but I plan to ask the Lord to show me how HE sees things, to judge my heart. I’m asking Him to help me have one LESS Christmas, when HE is more important than ME and my traditions, my desires, my cravings, my hopes, my dreams, my memories, or my plans.
Join me this December for lessons from those who knew Jesus up close and personal, who made him greater, and discovered what it means to be one less.