Pull out your Bible and read 1 Timothy 3:16. In it, we find the most profound reasons for a Scrooge-like heart to become a heart overflowing with love and joy:
-- The mystery of godliness. What's the mystery? The God of the universe came to earth as a baby in a manger. And our lives can be totally transformed by placing faith in that baby who grew up to die on the cross as a sacrifice for the sin of the world.
-- God was manifested in the flesh. What's Christmas really about? God was born in the flesh and walked on earth for 33 years as a human being, sending shockwaves of joy through the hearts that accepted Him.
-- Justified by the Spirit. We know Jesus was the Christ because "God anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil" (Acts 10:38). Hearts that truly celebrate are those who have been set free by God incarnate.
-- Seen by angels. The same angels who announced the birth of Jesus announced His resurrection (Matthew 28:6) -- and stayed with Him all that time.
-- Preached among the Gentiles. Most Christians today are Gentiles -- non-Jews. How much joy would we have if we were still "without Christ … aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12)?
-- Believed on in the world. We share the joy of the Incarnation of Christ at Christmas with multitudes of others who have believed on Him.
-- Received up in glory. Jesus was born in humility but "received up in glory" to heaven after His resurrection, from whence He will come again in glory to bring "peace, goodwill toward men!" (Luke 2:14)
Ebenezer Scrooge finally became a blessing instead of a blister to the Cratchit family. But there are more blessings in life than correcting attitudes toward others: a new birth … the presence of God's Spirit … salvation … sanctification … eternal life -- we have so much to be thankful for in Christ this Christmas season.
There is an analogy in "A Christmas Carol" that pictures at the physical level what Christmas provides for us at the spiritual level. Bob Cratchit's son, Tim, was a crippled child who made his way on crutches. All of life for him was a struggle, and Scrooge was overcome with guilt when he realized how he could have been helping the boy by providing a better income for his father.
What happened to Tim in the end was not unlike what happened to Mephibosheth of old, the son of King David's covenant friend, Jonathan. Mephibosheth was a crippled outcast who was invited to live in David's palace when Jonathan died. Though he remained a cripple, he feasted at the king's table and was promised provision for the rest of his life (see the story in 2 Samuel 9).
Similarly, tiny Tim Cratchit became the recipient of Scrooge's blessings. And in a way which pales both examples by comparison, we have become the recipient of God's blessings in Christ, blessings we celebrate at Christmas.
The closing words of A Christmas Carol summarize the change in Scrooge, the blessings for Tim, and the ultimate source of every blessing for all who know Christ:
"...it was always said of , that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, every one!"
Have you learned to "keep Christmas well?" May it be truly said of us that we have -- by celebrating the blessing of God that has come through the Christmas Christ Child.
David Jeremiah is the founder of the radio and television program "Turning Point for God," and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif. For more information on Turning Point, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org.
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