The Spirit of Christmas
The first thing I want to point is that I am in no way advocating the concept that December 25th is Jesus’ birthday. In fact if your were here last year I preached and entire sermon showing that it was not logical for Jesus to have been born anytime during the winter season because the shepherds are not out in the field at this time. Most scholars believe that he was either born around the Passover time in our March or April or even possibly in the fall around September. “Christ mass” which became our Christmas did not become a official celebration on December 25th until 435 A.D. when the Roman Catholic church made it official. There were many dates that they were looking at but the reason why they chose December 25th was because the Romans had been celebrating that day in honor of their SUN GOD. Christians understood that it was much easier to change the flavor of a holiday than it was to take it away. So, what better way to replace the celebration of the SUN GOD with a celebration of the SON OF GOD.
Now the statements have just made are factual and true yet many in the religious world would think that I have just committed the unpardonable sin by saying Jesus wasn’t born or Dec. 25th. But the fact of the matter is that bible does not tell us when he was born or that we should have some special remembrance or celebration of his birth, instead the focus is put on his death and we are told to remember his death every 1st day of the week when we partake of the Lord’s Supper just as we have done today. 1 Cor. 11:26.
Now don’t get me wrong I am very thankful for Christ birth and I am thankful for anything that makes people think about Jesus is a positive manner but as Christians I do not celebrate Christmas as Jesus birthday. Instead, I celebrate it as a time I spend with my family and exchange gifts.
With that being said I now want to focus on the wonderful Christmas spirit that many have around the Christmas season that they should have all year round. People have been conditioned to take on a different attitude during this time of year and it a wonderful thing to experience.
For instance, during this time of year people have a spirit of giving because it is a time that we give and receive gifts. Now gift giving is not always equal and this can be disappointing to a young child and so we try to instill the idea that that it is more blessed to give than to receive, which are the very words of Jesus. Also during this season some churches prepare food baskets for the elderly or the poor and this is a great work, but we have to ask ourselves the question, is this poor person going to be any hungrier on Dec. 25 that they are on July 25th. Of course they are not. My point is this, while there is nothing wrong with giving to the poor at Christmas time this should not be the only time that we do so. As Jesus said, the poor will be with us always and so we should have a giving spirit all year round.
In fact one of the major themes of the Bible is having a giving spirit and we can certainly see that Jesus had this spirit as we read in,
2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
Jesus gave up heaven to live on the earth for the sole purpose to give up his life for you and I so that we could become rich in his spiritual blessings. Jesus was a giver his whole life and we should be to.
Another thing that happens to some Christians is that they get caught up in the Christmas game and before they know it they have spent all their money on gifts for others that have no more money left for God. Now don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with having a giving spirit and buying gifts for your loved ones but we must be careful that we don’t take away what from what we have set aside to give to God because we don’t want to hurt the work of the church because of we got caught up in the Christmas game.
Giving to God should not be what you have left over in your bill fold or purse but it should be something that you have set aside in your budget just like you do with your house payment or car payment. That is why Paul says,
2 Corinthians 9:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
So when it comes to giving of our money to the Lord not only should we have the spirit of giving all year round we should also give cheerfully and not grudgingly.
Another spirit of Christmas is the spirit of receiving. There is something about receiving a wrapped present that makes you feel good inside. I can remember as a child the excitement of opening up those gifts so that the mystery would finally be over. There is even something very exciting about ripping open those presents with wrapping paper flying ever where. Whether the gift is small or big we are thankful to have received it.
As Christians we should have this same spirit of receiving every day or our lives because every single day we enjoy all the spiritual blessing that are found in Jesus. We have received the grace of God and everything that goes along with it. So don’t make the spirit of receiving just be 1 time a year. Instead remind yourself daily of the wonderful gifts that you are receiving from God.
Another spirit of Christmas is the spirit of forgiveness. During the Christmas season people’s hearts seem to be softer and more willing to be more forgiving. There have been many people who have reconciled their differences during the Christmas season and many who do nott allow arguments to get out of hand all because of the forgiving spirit of Christmas time.
I read one story that talked about how a women was walking out of a mall with as many bags as she could carry and the ran into man who was making his way into the mall. Well the lady lost her balance and fell and her bags were scattered. People began to watch and to see what would be said but to their surprise the man simply helped the lady up and helped her gather her bags and she smiled while all this was going on. Now this most likely would not have been the case during any other time of the year but since it was the Christmas season the lady had a spirit of forgiveness.
It is certainly wonderful to see how tolerable people are during the Christmas season but at the same time it sad because this spirit of forgiveness is gone after the Christmas Season especial when you get into January because Christmas is over and now your trying to figure out how you are going to pay for all the presents you bought on your credit card and there is not another holiday until February and so now you are grumpy and ready to attack the first person that rubs you the wrong way.
Of course this should not be case for Christians because we are taught very clearly that we are to have the spirit of forgiveness all year round. In fact having a forgiving spirit is essential to being Christ-like. Did you know that Jesus taught that forgiveness should come before worship?
Matthew 5:23"Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 "leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Friends this teaches us that if we have malice in our hearts toward our brother or our sister in Christ then we cannot properly worship God because our hearts are not right. We must understand that when we sin against each other it is just like sinning against Christ, as Jesus says in,
Matthew 25:40 … Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'
Also to show the seriousness of forgiveness Jesus says,
Matthew 6:14"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
We can certainly see that importance of having the spirit of forgiveness because without out it we cannot be pleasing to God and our hearts will not be right for worship. Now in order for true forgiveness to occur when someone sins against you, repentance must be involved because God does not ask you do something that he will not do.
Luke 17:3 "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 "And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him." 5 And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."
Here Jesus makes it clear that if someone repents that is they come to you and they say they are sorry for what they did to you, it is your Christian duty to forgive them just as God forgives you when you repent of your sins and this is to be done every time and Jesus points this out. Because of this statement his apostles say increase our faith because we all know its hard to forgive someone who has wronged us, but we must be willing to have a forgiven spirit and to forgive that person no matter what they have done to us when the repent.
Now we have to remember when God forgives he also forgets.
Hebrews 8:12 "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."
Now this is of the hardest feats that every Christian must learn to do and that is to completely forgive by trying to put their sin out of your mind as God does. Let me show you a couple of quotes. “When a man but half forgives his enemy, it like leaving a bag of rusty nails to interpose between them” “ Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for forgiveness, or forgiving another”.
Now could you imagine God only forgiving you half way? Well, of course not and so we must strive to follow Jesus example and forgive others completely all year round.
Another Spirit of Christmas is Kindness. Wherever you go during the Christmas season for the most part people are more considerate to others. You will see more people smiling at you, opening doors for you and speaking kindly to you. Again, this is a wonderful spirit to have but for most it only last during the Christmas season, but for the Christians we should always try and make the spirit of kindness part of our every day lives. Notice what the writer of Proverbs says about the righteous women in,
Proverbs 31:26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
This is the characteristic that every Christians should learn to obtain because when your tongue has the law of kindness this means you will be considerate of others and this is one the best ways to show the love Christ dwelling in you. Kindness is very powerful as it shows what you are made of and shows others that you care. This is why Paul told the church at Colossee to put on kindness and humbleness of mind (Col 3:12) and why Peter states that kindness in one of those Christians virtues in 2 Peter 1 that makes up a faithful Christian who can have the confidence of going to heaven. Kindness doesn’t cost you anything but it is an act that can accomplish great things so don’t forget to have the spirit of kindness all year round.
Another spirit of Christmas for most is the spirit of happiness. Most people tend to be a little bit happier during the Christmas season because of the upbeat attitude most have and because we get to spend more time with our loved ones. While this is a great spirit to have again it should be one that we have all year as Christians.
Proverbs 16:20 He who heeds the word wisely will find good, And whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.
Now I am not suggesting that Christians are going to be smiling from ear to ear 24/7 because we all experience the different emotions that humans have in regard to frustrations and lost of loved ones but over all even in difficult situation we can still find a spirit of happiness because we trust in the Lord and know that he is always there for us as,
Hebrews 13:5 … For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." 6 So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
So as Christians we have every reason to have the spirit of happiness all year round.
Finally the last spirit of Christmas which binds all the others together is the spirit of love as Paul teaches us in,
Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
You see without love all of the spirits of Christmas we have talked about so far would not happen because love binds them all together. Of course the greatest definition of love is found in,
1 Corinthians 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.
This plainly shows us that we must have the spirit of love all year round. One of the major themes of the Bible is loving one another as God has loved us. There is no greater example of what love is about then what God did for us when we did not deserve it. He gave us his only begotten son knowing that hardships he would have to face and that he would have to suffer on the cruel cross for you and I. That is our great example and so we must learn to have love for another everyday of the year.
I hope this lesson has shown you that there are certainly some wonderful qualities about the Christmas season and how it brings out the spirit of giving, receiving, forgiving, kindness, happiness and love. But these things should not just happen one time a year for the Christian. Instead the spirit of Christmas should be with us through out the whole year and throughout our whole lives.
One of the spirits of Christmas I mentioned was the spirit of receiving and one of the greatest gifts that you could receives this morning is the forgiveness of your sins. (Plan of salvation)