Have you ever celebrated a holiday named Memas?
Some people observe it every December 25. For them, the Christ of Christmas has been replaced by a Me-centered worldview. This is a celebrity generation in which everyone wants little flashes of fame and fortune. One of the reasons the average wedding costs $25,000 is because so many couples want to experience for at least a day the kind of endless glamour enjoyed by celebs.
Even Christmas has been affected; and if we aren’t careful, it becomes all about us—our schedules, our diets, our budgets, our wish lists, our time off, our vacation, our parking spaces, our gifts to enjoy or return.
I love the trappings of Christmas as much as anyone; but the truths of Christmas trump the trappings of Christmas, and too many people get trapped in the trappings and forget the truth. How can we enjoy Christmas if we’re the reason for the season?
In a sense, of course, Christmas is all about us. God loved us, became flesh for us, died to forgive us our sins, and rose to give us everlasting life. Christmas is the celebration of what Jesus did for us. But in return, we should make it all about Him: loving Him, serving Him, praising Him, and emulating His attitude of humility.
Here are three words to remember during December. You might write them on a piece of paper to keep in your pocket or purse through the holidays.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tempted with impatience more in December than any other time. As our schedules accelerate, our emotions are drained like gasoline in an SUV. We fly from event to event, battle crowds at the shopping centers, endure delays at the airports, run back and forth to church, and have family members invading our houses. Sometimes all it takes is a momentary flash of anger or an irritable expression on our faces—and we’ve ruined someone’s day.
Dr. F. B. Meyer told of a schoolteacher who, when provoked by a group of unruly kids, prayed: “Your patience, Lord!” Instantly such a calm entered him that he realized he had made a great discovery. It’s not enough to tell ourselves to be patient, or even to ask God for patience. We need to claim His very own patience and appropriate His own indwelling resources at the very moment of irritation.
A word that isn’t mentioned in many of our carols is sacrifice. Jesus didn’t just give eternal life, wonderful as that is. He gave us himself. He died sacrificially for the sins of the world, and He rose to live on our behalf.
A natural question arises from His sacrifice: In what way can I sacrifice something of myself for someone else this season? I’m not going to suggest any answers for you, but I’m mulling it over for me. All service requires sacrifice, and we shouldn’t offer the Lord that which costs us nothing.
The third word is others. Remember the old acronym for joy—Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last? There are two kinds of people in the world—those who come into a room saying, “Here I am!” And others who enter a room saying, “Ah, there you are!”
This season, build up others and make them feel special—and not just people at home or church. What about that woman at the shopping mall who might need a parking space more than you do? What about the harried clerk at the discount store who could use a smile? What about the man in line behind you?
Patience, Sacrifice, and Joy—that’s the way to display humility, and that’s the way to celebrate Christmas instead of Memas.