Saturday, December 8, 2007


Dr. Seuss wasn't thinking of me when he wrote The Grinch That Stole Christmas. Charles Dickens would not have asked me to play Scrooge. In spite of what you may read later, remember that! Our family has a tree every year, we exchange presents, play Christmas records, sing carols, enjoy the festivities, and even wish folks "Merry Christmas." Believe me, I have no bone to pick with the yuletide season, unless it's off the turkey.

But you'll have to agree, it's not without its unique problems and temptations. Our lovely land of plenty drifts dangerously near insanity three or four weeks every year. If you doubt that, consider these statistics: Americans spend 8.5 billion dollars during the Christmas season; 150 million dollars will go for wrappings alone, most of which will be immediately discarded; 100 million dollars will be spent on trees; 200 million dollars will be spent on postage; 2 million telegrams will be sent between the 23rd and 25th of December. (My figures are out of date, but if anything, each would be increased this year.)

Along with all this, emotions, unpredictable and undisciplined, begin to run wild. Nostalgia mixed with eleven months of guilt can prompt illogical and extravagant purchases. Neighborhood pressure can cause perfectly normal people to mount extravagant displays and string hundreds of lights on their houses. Television advertising, Christmas bank accounts, and special "wish books" only increase the pull of the magnet that inevitably ends with the sound of cash register or the hollow snap of the credit card.

While we think we may be immune to all this, we Christians need to be especially alert to the dangers and think through a strategy that allows us to combat each one. 1'11 mention only four.

Doctrinal Danger... substituting the temporal for the eternal. A couple of Scriptures give needed counsel here: "... keep seeking the things above, where Christ is .... Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth .... And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed... (Col. 3: I-2; Rom. 12:2).

It's important that we understand exactly what we're celebrating. It is our Savior's arrival, not Santa's. The significance of giving presents is to be directly related to God's presenting us the Gift of His Son.

Personal Danger... impressing but not imparting. We represent the King. We are His chosen ambassadors, doing His business "in season and out of season." So let's do it this season! People are wide open to the Gospel these days.

Economical Danger... spending more than you have. Before every purchase, think: Is this within my budget? Is it appropriate? Is it really saying what I want it to say? And remember, homemade gifts are often more appreciated and much less expensive. A safe rule to follow is this: If you don't have the cash, don't buy it.

Psychological Danger... getting built up for a letdown. One of the most effective maneuvers of the world system is to create a false sense of excitement. The Christian can get "high" very easily on the crest of Christmas, and the afterglow can be a dangerous, depressing experience.

Guard yourself. Keep a firm hand on the controls. Don't be deceived. Enjoy the 25th... but not at the expense of the 26th. If you stay occupied with the Person, you'll seldom have to fight off the plague. Make Hebrews 12:3 your aim: "Consider Him ... so that you may not grow weary and lose heart."

A Finishing Touch: This Christmas, let's forget about trying to impress others by what we buy and spend more time imparting what we already possess.

Heavenly Father You have blessed us with things we can do for You in special ways because each of us is Your special creation. With joy and thanksgiving, help us to experience the power of Your Holy Spirit in all that we do, to be open to Your leading in a world that desperately needs the touch of Your love through Your people. We pray in Jesus' name, for Jesus is your gift to us, a present that lasts to eternity.