Summary: Last in Christmas series, this one about living with a Christmas attitude throughout the year.
Getting Past the Glitter
#4 - "Living" Differently about Christmas
December 26, 2004
Two young boys were spending the night at their grandparents’ house the week before Christmas. At bedtime, the two boys knelt beside their beds to say their prayers. The younger one began praying at the top of his lungs:
"I PRAY FOR A NEW BICYCLE..."
"I PRAY FOR A NEW NINTENDO..."
His older brother leaned over, nudged him and said, "Why are you shouting? God isn’t deaf." to which the little brother replied, "No, but Grandma is!" (SermonCentral.com. Contributed by: Joel Vicente)
My original intent was to give this message last week, but my untimely illness a couple weeks ago pushed it back, but the more I thought about it, the better I think it fits for this week, as we fill the trash bins with the wrapping paper, and make plans to hit the customer service counters at the stores for exchanges.
And, after all, it’s only the day after Christmas, so it’s really not so out of place at all, is it?
My theme verse for the Christmas season has been Romans 12:2, and I’d like you to read this aloud with me, as has been our custom these past few weeks:
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The premise of these messages has been that if Christians celebrate Christmas the way the rest of the world does, then it’s not honoring to God, because there’s no room for Christ, other than the occasional polite reference to the baby Jesus.
So far we have looked at thinking differently about Christmas, speaking differently about Christmas, and "doing" differently about Christmas. My apologies to all my grammar teachers throughout history. And today our topic is "living" differently about Christmas.
I’d like to visit about how we can go about living a Biblically accurate Christmas attitude throughout the entire year.
To do that, I would like us to look at a passage that at first glance doesn’t look like a Christmas passage, but it really is.
Please follow along as I read Philippians 2:3-8 -
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross!
My intention today is to give you three ways to "live" Christmas differently than the rest of the world, with the hope that as others see what God is doing in you, they will become hungry and thirsty for the God you serve.
1. Set aside selfishness.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit...
Boy, this is a hard one. It’s hard to not be selfish, at times, maybe even most of the time, isn’t it?
We feel we deserve one thing or another, whether it be a material thing, or respect, or maybe just some rest.
This is hard for me, let me tell you. Many are the times I’ve had to fight the battle of "I deserve this - it’s been a hard week." And I can justify and rationalize with the best of them.
Our culture tells us that we are to look out for number one, and they’re right! They’re just mixed up about who number one is!
Jesus said we’re to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. I’m kinda of the opinion that if that’s really where your priority is, then it’s kinda hard to be so stuck on yourself.
And the second part of that verse applies as well, to love your neighbor as yourself, which provides a super-nice segue into the next way to live differently about Christmas, and that is to...
2. Lift up others.
...in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Here’s how the Message paraphrase puts it -
Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.
But I really like how the New American Standard Bible puts it -
...regard one another as more important than yourselves...
What I want to discuss is the way we talk others up and try to increase their worth in their own eyes and in the eyes of others, either to their face or behind their back.