Here we are once again at the most wonderful time of the year when we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ. Warm feelings abound, good will seems to be observed in extra measure and there is a kinder, gentler attitude among our fellow men or is there?
During the long holiday weekend following Thanksgiving, our daughter and her husband went shopping for bargains during the "early" Black Friday sales. In one store while they were looking at several items, they heard a fight break out over some video games that were on special. It was at this point our daughter told us she did not feel safe. Of course, it could have been worse. She could have been at the store where a woman pepper sprayed her competition in order to get what she wanted. At another location, someone was shot. The newspaper reported a customer saying she witnessed two women fighting over towels which cost $1.28. I find this all hard to imagine, but the Bible tells us that we should not be surprised since "...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). If ever there is evidence of our sin nature, this is one occasion we can see it clearly.
When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God in the Garden, not only were they cast out of this paradise but they also brought sin and death to all mankind. As Paul goes on to write in Romans 5, he notes: "Therefore just as sin came into the world through one man, and death, through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned...."(verse 12). Because sin has permeated every part of our being (our thoughts, our will, our soul), we are slaves to sin and dead to righteousness. It is not until the Lord awakens us by regenerating our soul that we can come to faith in Christ who alone liberates us from sin and death. His atoning sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection has broken the curse for us. He carried our sin, and by His blood, we are made whole and clean. However, it does not stop there. Our life is a journey as we grow in our faith through prayer, study of God's Word and fellowship with other believers. Nevertheless, we would be foolish to think we will not fall into sin again. As long as the "old flesh" still clings to us (though its power is broken), we can succumb to old besetting sins once more. This is why it is so important for us to daily walk by God's Spirit, and be aware of what the Bible calls sin.
If ever we have doubted the sin nature, Black Friday incidents certainly point to man's selfishness. However, it isn't limited to this one day out of the year, and unfortunately, there are times when we see Christians also demonstrate sin in their lives. The Good News is that the baby born in a manger in Bethlehem came to set us free. He bought our pardon with His blood. As believers, we need to meditate on this and live it out day by day as we prepare for this holy celebration. We do not have to live according to the flesh. Paul concludes chapter 5 to Galatian believers with these words of encouragement:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another" (Galatians 5:22-26). Putting into practice this walk in the Spirit will bring glory to God and bless our fellow man. Take time this Advent season to think on these things and be the example to others of Christ's love. This is what our world needs much more than a Play Station game or some other bargain on the shelf. Selah!
I welcome your thoughts and comments here. Please feel free to leave a word of encouragement.