For most, the Christmas season is a time in which we test the capacities of our memory. We try to remember who wanted which gift, what activities need done before the big day, and where the heck we put away the star that goes on top of the tree. We remember joyous holiday moments from the past, traditions that were handed down to us as kids, and the memory of loved ones. Lots to remember--some good and some bad. In the midst of all our remembering, let's pause for a second to remember some truths that the biblical Christmas narrative reveal to us.
Good things from God are worth waiting for. As early as Genesis 3:15, God promised that a Savior would come; that rescue from the clutches of sin would be delivered. The prophets of God foretold of the Messiah and generation after generation of God's people waited for Him to come. Thousands of years had passed since God had first revealed His promise of a Savior. That's a long time to wait (and some didn't). Many lost zeal and their trust in the Lord dwindled. They went and did their own thing. But some waited (think Anna and Simeon). And if we get to ask them in heaven, I bet they'll say it was worth it.
Christmas teaches us that the promises of God are worth waiting for. Sin promises joy and satisfaction instantly. Sin allures us with the promise of instant gratification. But it is a lie. Whatever joy and satisfaction that sin may deliver will only last for a brief time. In our struggle against sin, Christmas teaches us that the promises of God deliver better and lasting joy--even if we have to patiently wait for them to be fulfilled--than the foolishness of sin.
Pride is ugly. The plan for Jesus to come to earth didn't fall together at the last minute. I guess you could say it has always existed because God has always existed. This means that every detail about Christ's birth was intentional and thought-out. The manger where Jesus was laid was intentional. God picked a manger and not a palace. The Creator and Sustainer of all things chose to lay where dirty and filthy animals ate, slept, and did other animal-related business. Christmas shows us the humility that Jesus displayed. The manger points to how Jesus desires to enter into our sinful messes. To act as if we don't need Jesus to change us and the messes we find ourselves in is, well, just plain ugly.
We can see pride like this in several characters that are a part of the Christmas story. Herod's pride caused him to commit mass-murder of children! To describe that as ugly would be quite an understatement. The religious elite's pride caused them to totally disregard the birth of Christ. They didn't even go to check it out! Weren't they at least curious? Thinking so highly of themselves, they ignored the arrival of their Creator. Ugly to say the least.
God works through weakness. God chose Mary and Joseph--a weak and young couple--to raise the Son of God. No doubt there were far more powerful people who could have cared for the infant Christ. People who had garnered influence and possessed great material wealth. But God didn't do that. He chose Mary and Joseph.
Christmas teaches us that our weaknesses do not keep us from having God work in and through us. This truth is seen time and time again throughout the pages of Scripture. Our weaknesses do not stop Jesus from involving Himself with us, our attitude does.
God keeps His promises. God promised a Savior, therefore He sent a Savior. Our God always keeps His Word. There are times when it looks like the Lord is not going to deliver what He promised, but it is in those times where our faith is grown and matured. As we wait for the Lord to keep His promises, may we wait with hearts full of trust, hope, and strength. When we are tempted to believe that God is not going to come through, let us declare that the Word of God never fails.
What promises are you waiting for the Lord to fulfill in your life? What promises have you forgotten about? Let's pray that this Christmas season is the time in which the Lord fulfills His promises in our lives!