Summary: 5 signs that will enable you to identify the grinches in your life

Dec. 17, 2000 Matthew 2:1-18

“The Grinch who tried to steal Christ”


One of the best known Christmas stories of all time is the story written by Dr. Seuss – “How the Grinch stole Christmas”. This popular Christmas allegory has become the most popular Christmas movie of this year. I heard from one of the movie reviewers that over 100 million dollars was spent just on the make-up for this movie! It stars Jim Carrey as a green creature who just isn’t having any fun. And since he isn’t having any fun, he wants to make sure that no one else is either. Probably everyone here has either seen the original cartoon or the current movie or both. I am one of those who has seen both.

We all understand that there is no such thing as a town called “Whoville” with people whose noses are all permanently stuck up in the air and whose hair is put up in all kinds of outlandish styles. And we all understand that there is no green creature called the “Grinch” or the “Gr . . . Gr . . . Grrriinch!” as Cindy Lu would say it. But there are people who behave like the grinch, people who think like the grinch, people who believe like the grinch, and people who are hurting like the grinch. They don’t live in far away lands or in caves at the top of high mountains. They may be your neighbor. They may be your mailman. They may be your brother or sister. They may be sitting next to you this morning.

It would be easy to spot them if they had fur all over their body and had a green tint to their skin. But that isn’t the way with today’s grinches. They are much more subtle. They where the same clothes you wear. They have a wife, two kids and a dog. There are probably Christmas presents under their tree. So if there is so much similarity between a grinch and you, how do you know one when you meet one? How do you know if you are one? This morning, I want us to see 5 signs that will enable you to identify the grinches in your life. In order to do that, we’re going to look at a grinch whose story is told in the Bible – Matt. 2.

You know you’re a grinch if . . .

1. . . . you get upset when others invade your territory. (vs. 1-6)

In Dr. Seuss’ story, he introduces the Grinch as he is standing at the ledge outside his cave which overlooks the village of the Who’s. He’s there on that ledge with his arms crossed, his head slightly tilted to one side, a scowl on his face, and his foot tapping on the snow-covered ground. It’s obvious that he is irritated. And then we learn why his attitude is so sour at this Christmas time of year. It’s because he hears music from the village below. They’re blowing their horns, and whistling their whistles, and singing their songs and making such a racket that no matter how hard he tries, he cannot shut it out. “What do they think – those Whovillers? Do they think that I came up here all the way to the top of this mountain so that I could hear their music?” No, the Grinch came there to get away. He wanted nothing to do with Whoville, the Whovillers or Christmas.

In the Grinch movie, we learn why he had secluded himself so far away from everyone else. It seems that when he was just a little grinch, he had lived down there in Whoville. He had been one of them – at least to a certain extent. Because of some mixup in the stork delivery system, he had been given to one of the families there. But he always knew that he never fit in. He tried to. It just never worked. His feelings were hurt. His hopes were crushed. So he decided to run away. Whovillers just hurt you. He didn’t need them. When he tried to reach out for love, he just got it stuffed back down his throat. He was going to get as far away as possible, so that he wouldn’t be bothered by them ever again. That way, they couldn’t hurt him anymore. And now, after all these years, they were invading his territory. Their music was reaching his ears. He wanted to shut it out, but he couldn’t.

There was another grinch whose territory was invaded. His name was Herod. Herod had been placed in charge of the whole land of the Jews by the Emperor of Rome. In fact, he had been given the title “the king of the Jews” by the Roman senate. Not everyone was happy about Herod’s role. Most of his subjects hated him. Though he built great works for them including a brand new temple, still the Jewish people resented his rule over them. It was not his rightful place. They transferred all their hatred of Rome as the invading enemy onto Herod. Herod knew the animosity of the people toward him, and he knew that they would use any opportunity to overpower his rule. He spent all of his days in a paranoia that he was going to lose control at any time. Because of this paranoia, he killed off anyone whom he considered to be a threat to the throne. This included all the members of the family who had ruled the area before him, one of which was his own wife. One of his sons, in an attempt to get in favor with Herod, convinced him that two of his other sons were conspiring to take the throne by killing him. Herod had those two killed. But a short time later, the son who had accused his brothers was also killed by Herod under the same suspicions. Herod was a man who so wanted to maintain control of every area of his life and so feared others that anyone who stood in opposition to him was in danger of losing their life. Now, imagine Herod’s reaction when 3 wise men from the east enter his court and say these words: “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (vs. 2) King of the Jews? That was Herod’s title given to him by the Roman senate! How dare someone else claim that title for themselves! Someone was stepping on some dangerous ground because they were invading Herod’s territory. Look at how he reacted. [read vs. 3] Herod was “disturbed”. That was putting it mildly. He was mad! He was infuriated! He was messed up on the inside. And it says that all Jerusalem was disturbed too. It’s kind of like one of those things where if momma ain’t happy, ain’t NOBODY happy! If Herod is upset, everyone is upset. Someone had invaded his territory and was threatening to take something that rightfully belonged to him.

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