This past week was Thanksgiving. This is truly one of my favorite holidays because it lacks the commercialism that the others have. It is a time for fellowship and community. It brings me great joy to sit around the table with my family. Next week is the first Sunday in Advent. Advent is made up of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. It is a time of preparation for the coming Savior. This year, we will have a new advent theme. As in years past, we will remember advent with the advent wreath…remembering the hope, love, joy and peace that comes through Christmas and our Savior. This year, we will also consider what Jesus was coming to do on Christmas and what He is coming to complete at His second coming.
This Christmas Season, we have a choice to make. It is approaching quickly. We have a choice of whether we will follow the world’s path this Christmas or follow the path of Jesus. Christmas has become so commercialized that it is difficult to figure out which we are following. Before you tune me out, I am not saying there is anything wrong with gift giving. I am saying there is a potential problem with how we, as Christians, celebrate this time of the year.
- We could find ourselves sacrificing our time with the Lord in order to ‘celebrate’ His birthday. (John 15:1-12) That may sound odd, but we get in such a rush at Christmas that we end up not spending time with the Lord. We end up not doing our devotionals and not spending time in prayer. We end up not reading His word because we have run out of time and energy. There are lots of great things we can do this time of the year…and none of them necessarily bad…but if they take away from the One we serve, there is a problem.
- We could find ourselves sacrificing our tithes in order to buy things for His birthday. (Matthew 6:19-21) We buy things we cannot afford to please people. We may struggle giving our tithes as it is. During Christmas, we find that we don’t have enough money to tithe so we can give gifts to others. Giving gifts is not a problem. But, if it puts us in such a financial bind that we go in debt, we are being disobedient and not being good stewards of what we have been given.
- We could find ourselves sacrificing our love and joy in order to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. (Scripture: Matthew 5:14-16) With all that is going on, it is easy to lose our patience and certainly to lose our joy. We could easily forget that we are called to love others as Jesus loves us. It is not easy to find love when you are fighting for deals and going in debt to buy stuff and rushing around like a mad person to try and cram everything in.
So, I ask…whose applause are you seeking?
A young violinist was giving a concert one day in front of a large crowd. He ended his concert with a flourish, and all the people stood up and applauded, shouting, “Bravo! Bravo! What a performance!” But the young man put his head down. As the people continued to clap, his eyes began to fill with tears. There was no smile on his face.
All of a sudden as the applause began to die, an old man sitting up in the balcony stood up and began to clap. As soon as the violinist saw that, a smile came across his face. He wiped the tears from his eyes. He smiled and held up his violin and walked off the stage.
A man in the wings said, “How come you were sad when the people stood up, but when that old man stood up, you became glad again?”
“Because the old man was my violin teacher,” the young musician explained, “and unless he stood up, my concert would have been a failure, because he is the only one who knows all the nuances of the music I played. He knows exactly how each piece is supposed to be played. It does not matter whether the people stand and applaud. I want to know if my teacher is going to stand and applaud. (Story taken from the devotional by Tony Evans, “Time to get serious”)
Again, whose applause do you seek? Do you seek applause of the Master or of the people? (Scripture: John 12:42-44)
How you celebrate this Christmas may be an indication of whose applause you are seeking…Jesus IS your something different this Christmas!