Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Taking the "Bah, Humbug" Out of Christmas

     Sitting at my computer desk the other day, I glanced up at a colorful poster above the screen.  It lists the nine character qualities that we as Christians are meant to display:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.  Now that is a boatload of good qualities that we are to possess isn't it?  However, think how much more productive, joy-filled and blessed our Christmas time would be if we would demonstrate such expressions of God's love. Contrast that picture with the realities most of us see each day as the holiday approaches.
       While going to the grocery store the other day, a parking space opened up near the store.  I put on my turn signal indicating my intent to take the spot.  As I pulled in, another car honked at me and the driver shook his fist as if to say, "I saw that spot first and I should have had it."    I meant no harm to the other person and in fact, I never saw them indicating his desire for the spot.  Ah, but such is the pressure that often surrounds the build up to Christmas.  People lose their tempers with one another as well as the employees in stores.  Lack of manners, unkind words, and even pushing to get something before someone else does is commonplace.
      When we read the newspaper, there are many tales of folks injured during a "black Friday" sale.   Fist fights and violence can easily erupt all in the name of getting an item for purchase.  If anything, we often see the sin nature emerge when the pressure is on to have the best, the biggest, and the most outstanding Christmas ever.
      Now, step back with me and look at the manger scene in the Bible.  Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, was born in an animal stable.  He did not have the best of everything in terms of accommodations but He was the best gift ever given to us!  This tiny child came to serve, to live and to die for us in our place.  He was the perfect sacrifice for our sins.  The quiet and peace of that silent night stands miles apart from the raucous noise of shopping malls and the bright holiday lights.
     What's more, when we give our heart to Christ and confess Him as Lord and Savior, there is a radical change within us as well.  We receive a new heart, and as we pour ourselves into His Word, our minds are renewed and change being transformed by the power of His Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 1:13 tells us:  "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit...."  This precious deposit of the Holy Spirit begins the teaching, guiding, comforting work that leads us to that day when we shall see Him face to face.
     In addition to all this, the Holy Spirit brings forth fruit in our life:  "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,...." (Galatians 5:22).  When we bear this fruit, people can see it in our lives.  They will know we are different.  Because sin no longer has a hold on us, we are freed from the opposite things that put the "bah humbug" in Christmas:  "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God...." (Galatians 5:10-21).
     Our redemption has fully delivered us from the ill-tempered, self-serving, rebellious person we used to be and placed us in the righteousness of Christ through no effort on our part.  God has done this by the counsel of His Own Will.  How glorious then it is to live f
or Him not just at Christmas but all the time.  When we bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, we are testifying to the great work God has done in and through us.  We are meant to be a light in this dark world and live differently so that all may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.
      Since we have been set free from junkyard dog living, let us put on a smile that radiates the change in our heart.  The world needs to see that we no longer live in the "bah humbug" mindset but have been made a fruitful vine in the house of our God.  This is the true meaning of for Him.  Selah!

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