Chasing the Spirit of Christmas

Ben CerulloBy Ben Cerullo5 Minutes

How’s your Christmas shopping coming along – has it sucked the Christmas spirit right out of you? Trying to find perfect gifts for the ones I love sometimes threatens to rob me of my Christmas joy. I’ve heard that the tradition of giving gifts is based on the wise men in the Christmas story, but I believe we want to give good gifts because we are made in the image of THE Giver, the King of Glory who gives Himself to us.

Think about it: God created the world to give it to man, the ones to whom He gave His own image! And ever since then, He’s been pouring out gifts of all kinds, both necessities and blessings – life, light, hope, faith. When we were ungrateful and rebellious, He gave His Son to redeem us and His Spirit to empower us. Every day God gives us everything we need to live victoriously. The unchanging God is the giver of all good things (James 1:17), and we’re made to be like Him.

Even knowing all that, sometimes I need to revisit Luke’s account of the worshiping wise men to retain my joy. These pagan scholars from the East studied the stars but knew about the prophecies of a coming King. So when one unique, gloriously brilliant star appeared in the sky, they noticed. Believing it to be the herald of God’s promised gift, the wise men left their old lives behind and set out to worship the promised Gift of God. After months of arduous, desert travel, they arrived in Jerusalem and began asking questions.

The news of their arrival prompted the earthy king to call on the local religious scholars for details about this prophesied King. The Jewish leaders quickly came to share their vast knowledge. They loved the respect and riches studying the Word brought to them, but they had no desire for that Word to come to life and disrupt their status quo. Unlike the wise men who traveled far and left their old lives behind, these fools – living just six miles from the King’s birthplace – clung to their way of life and missed the actual Gift of God.

The Wisdom of Worship

The wise men’s gifts reveal their heart attitude toward God and show us how to celebrate Christmas with joy and wisdom!

Gold – Gold reminds us to value our King. The generous, loving Creator who made you, redeemed you, and sustains you gives Himself to you! Celebrating that amazing truth adds value to every moment of life.

Frankincense – Temple worship always included this fragrant oil. Today, we are the temple, and the most important holiday preparation is cleansing our hearts so that His spirit can burn brightly in us! Jesus-centered hearts bring the scent of Heaven to earth. What a joy to take Him to those who haven’t found Him yet.

Myrrh – Myrrh was an oil used on dead bodies before burial. As believers, we have been buried with Christ and now live in His resurrection power. Myrrh reminds us that our earthly lives have eternal purposes. Only when we choose to die to the chaos around us can we live fully in the purposes and power of Christ.

As we wrap up this look at the wisdom of the wise men, it occurs to me that the chaos of Christmas is a gift in itself. It exposes when I’m acting like a foolish Pharisee and forgetting to seek the joy, hope, and peace that can only be found in Jesus. Nothing compares to the glory and goodness of God. Wise men do still seek Him.