The Christmas Season has started, even for those of us waiting until it’s actually the next holiday.
Christmas is important because it is one of two events in the history of the universe that make salvation possible – the human birth of the one and only God. It puts in motion the ultimate example of grace anyone’s ever seen or imagined. We accept that grace without one single thing to give in return. We don’t earn or pay or barter for it. When we come face to face with wrongs we’ve done, the term ‘amazing grace’ comes alive. We depend on it when we mess up. We’re relieved to hear ‘there is therefore now no condemnation.’ More often than we’d like to admit, we expect it… maybe even before we follow through on an action or attitude that we know isn’t quite right.
Grace is a beautiful thing when we’ve learned to accept it.
But living like Christ is not just about accepting His grace.
It’s also about imparting it to others. Forgiving when we don’t feel like it, even those who, like us in comparison to God’s holiness, don’t deserve it.
If you’ve ever been hurt, you know this is a difficult task.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), God’s Word makes some pretty strong statements concerning the necessity of doing just that.
Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Romans 5:6-8 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
He’s adamant about it because He loves us. He wants us to understand what He did for us to such an extent that we would do the same to others, and in doing so learn to love Him more as well as to know how high, long, wide and deep His love is (Eph. 3:17-18). The parable Jesus told, recorded in Matt. 18:21-35, illustrates this.
So I was thinking that this Christmas season, while we celebrate Emmanuel, God with Us, the epitome of Grace, that we will not only learn to accept His grace, but to impart it to everyone else as well.
It takes practice, as well as the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and encouragement from God’s Word.
But with this mindset, won’t shopping and family gatherings be less stressful? Won’t ‘Joy to the World’ and ‘Deck the Halls’ sound better? Won’t celebrating Christmas take on a deeper meaning?
Remember, it’s not easy. It doesn’t come naturally. But then, like my Daniel says, if it was easy, everyone would do it.
25 days until Christmas!