(This was begun on December 25, 2016. A lot was going on, so it didn’t get posted until now. That was probably a blessing, as it more simply reflects what I might have been tempted to say by a lengthier pontification. The thought is good for any time of the year.)
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11)
“… But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” (1Timothy 6:5-11)
Here we are again. It’s December 25, Christmas Day. How quickly it seems to roll around each year! This message may be the clinker in the fireplace on a day when we’re being lulled to sleep by yet another round of “chestnuts roasting on an open fire”.
Maybe it’s also time to take a good look at where we’re going, if we name the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in a world and a nation which has turned it’s back on the One Whose birthday it claims to celebrate today.
All the gift buying, wrapping, and opening of presents, all the stress of the bill paying that follows, all of it in the name of giving our children “something more”… Could we dare to admit that the hype of anticipation, inserted into our minds by the sorceries of the merchants, far exceeds the five minute enjoyment of unwrapping yet another toy or piece of electronic paraphernalia made in China?
There are bell ringers in front of every Walgreen’s. People stroll through hospital corridors as they carol and sing, “Joy to the World.” There are food drives and clothing drives and all sorts of giving expressed.
Yet as I drive around town and observe the “Holly Daze”, I wind up asking, how is it we can, as if by some signal, cease hostilities and go into a generosity mode once a year, but then – as if by yet another signal – resume and maintain until the next “Season” an attitude of business as usual and looking out for number one? Does this not seem to be a a bit puzzling? It’s as if someone flips a switch, and off we go.
I suppose I ought to be thankful that it happens even once a year, but in a “Christian country”, how is it that this generosity does not characterized a general way of life which would be ringing bells of joy throughout all creation all the time?
We call this the celebration of the birthday of Jesus Christ, but… seriously? It seems all quite hollow. Maybe we could call it the “Hollow Days”.
What Paul is pointing out here – to believers – is a contentment with greater spiritual riches and the fruit of the Spirit – godliness – ought to be the focus of every believer in Christ, in all places, at all times.