Is Christmas joy an illusion? Have you stopped seeking joy and settled for survival? Maybe the busy-ness of the season just wears you out. And when was the last time you found real Christmas joy? Even some good things won’t provide the genuine joy that should be associated with Christmas. And that joy can be found in a place you might not think to look!
Christmas Joy: A Confession
This is not an academic exercise. I need to write this at least as much as you might need to read it. Why? It’s easy to be distracted by good things. That is an effective tool in the hand of our enemy. We are tempted to focus on good things rather than the best things. And what good things distract us?
Christmas is a season of giving. Why? It’s about our Father’s example. And even though we see the example, we aren’t always good at following it. So, let’s keep going.
Your Christmas may include year-end giving to E-quipUs, special offerings at church, or other worthwhile ministry endeavors. Those are great things. But there’s a deeper source for real Christmas joy. Giving is an outward evidence of an inward reality!
Missions, the work of this E-quipUs, is about giving. And it’s not what we give that matters most. It’s why we do it! In the name of Jesus we give of ourselves, our time, and our resources. And we do those things as we volunteer, support our local Church, or in support of Equipping For Life (the E-quipUs mission).
We find Christmas joy in missions because giving of ourselves is imitating our Father. He is a generous Giver. And we are commanded – Ephesians 5:1 – to be like Him. God so loved the world – you and me – that He gave His only Son. What a generous, indescribably wonderful gift to unworthy folks like me!
Christmas Joy: The Sin Connection
Have you ever made up ‘new words’ to church hymns? We often did this while my dad was preaching. Our youthful activities went unnoticed most of the time. But the ‘sin connection’ I have in mind is NOT the same as some of the irreverent lyrics we composed while ignoring a good sermon. You know, things like:
I was sinking deep in sin…having a wonderful time!
We laugh because there’s truth in that line. There is pleasure in sin – for a season. But the adult question is: How do you really view sin? Let me be more specific. How do you view your sin? It’s easy to view sin as an idea or concept. We are good at that. We call it Bad and pat ourselves on the back for doing so. And even though that Bad thing called sin is out there, I’ve never really done very much that was all that bad.
Does that ‘reasoning’ sound vaguely familiar? It does if you’re honest with the person in your mirror. But how does that line up with what Jesus said?
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.
If I am to find real Christmas joy then I must come face to face with this fact: Any and every sin is an offense to our Holy and Righteous Father. There is no category for big sins and little sins. That thought came from the enemy and we enjoy entertaining it. We use it to comfort ourselves in false comparisons with others. ALL OF US have fallen short of God’s required perfection; all except Jesus. Things within me have offended my Father. I have sinned in:
- Evil desires
All these things, and more, are the fabric of who we are. That’s the problem. And facing it head on allows us to find real joy.
Christmas Joy: Mission of Hope
If I am honest with myself about my need of Jesus, then I can’t help but be overjoyed at the fact that He took on flesh and dwelt among us. The very familiar words of the Apostle Paul tell us that three things remain:
And the greatest of them is love. Christ’s coming is love demonstrated. Romans 5:8 and John 3:16 make that very clear. And that demonstration of love brought hope. Even though I am sinful and should stand condemned before a Holy God, there is hope for me! Forgiveness is available. Faith allows hope to be realized. And when hope is realized He can love others through us. That’s a real reason for real joy.
And when we understand He is loving through us, our giving takes on a whole new meaning. If we are mission volunteers, equipping a mission team, or sponsoring a pastor, then those things also have new meaning. His gift enables us to give so that others might have the hope He came to bring. And there’s real joy in that!
Soli Deo Gloria!