Have you ever had an empty feeling on December 26th? You know, after Christmas Day has passed and you look back at all the planning that had taken place… all the work that had been done, and all the money that had been spent… you realize that the day had flown by without any lasting results. Now all you have left is an empty feeling, weariness, and a half years’ worth of debt.
We can all understand why in many cases, this is the lot of a lost and dying world. For those who have never experienced God’s grace in their lives, not recognizing Jesus as their Lord and Savior, it only makes sense that the Christmas holidays are like any holiday for them. Christmas is simply another opportunity for them to become anxious, frustrated and wasteful, looking for fleshly satisfaction. It is no wonder their holiday is empty and void of true happiness while filled with frustration, weariness, anxiety and debt.
But things should be different for us as Christians. The Christmas holiday is a time set apart by the world to celebrate the coming of our Lord and Savior. The Christmas holiday reminds us of the greatest display of God’s love being shown to mankind… the sending of His Son to this world to live, and be sacrificed, for our sake.
Christmas is not only a time for Christians to joyously recall God’s wondrous love, but also it holds many opportunities to reach others for Christ. The world is much more receptive to the message of Christ and his work during the Christmas season than any other time of the year… what a wonderful opportunity for each of God’s people to reach others for Christ through their words, deeds and lifestyle!
But sadly, in spite of all these reasons for joy and happiness, Christmas can end up being a time of sadness, frustration and emptiness for Christians as well as the lost. These things should not be so. Hence, the Word gives us the three keys to finding true joy, peace and spiritual satisfaction…
Luk 2:14 KJV – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
In our text for this Bible study (Luke 2:14), it is very important that we understand its context. Our text contains a portion of the very first angelic message that was given by God following the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ, in Bethlehem (Luke 2:7-12). Also, please notice our text is a message delivered by “a multitude of heavenly hosts” whose intent was to bring praise to the Only True God (Luke 2:13).
Within the message of these heavenly host… Luke 2:14 KJV – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”… we find three basic principles that are given to all of God’s people. Within these three principles, we find the very purpose and foundation of Christ’s ministry, as well as the keys to Christian’s celebrating Christ’s birth in a God-honoring way.
The three principles are:
- “Glory to God in the highest” – God being appreciated, glorified and served in everything that is done.
- “on earth peace” – Harmony, quietness, rest between God and men.
- “good will toward men”– Unselfish desires for prosperity and blessing for others.
Folks, with the coming of Christ to the earth, God was not only glorifying Himself, but He was also opening up the pathway for men to receive these blessings of peace and goodwill. This pathway would be revealed through the teachings of Christ, and would be secured through the work of Christ on the cross.
Christ, Himself, during His life on earth accomplished all three of these goals perfectly…
- God’s glory was revealed in Christ’s life –
Joh 17:4 KJV – “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”
- Peace between God and Man was secured through Christ’s work –
Eph 2:14 KJV – “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;”
- Unselfish desires for the good of others was shown by The Father’s giving of Christ to the world –
John 3:16 KJV – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
God the Father’s goals in sending Christ was perfectly accomplished… He was glorified, His way of peace was given, and His goodwill was shown to man. Christ, during His life accomplished these goals, and in doing so, set the perfect example for each one of us to follow.
When we understand that these were the three goals that God had in mind when He sent Christ to this earth, it only makes sense that these should be the same goals for us, as Christians as we celebrate Christ’s coming. This allows God’s people to actively participate in accomplishing what God intended to take place at Christ’s first coming.
If this is the case, by us striving to fulfill these three goals during our Christmas celebration, we are actively fulfilling God’s will for our lives, and accomplishing much for the cause of Christ. We are glorifying Him while helping others to come to Christ and grow in God’s grace, reaping eternal rewards for ourselves. What a wonderful legacy and spiritual accomplishment for each one of us to leave behind, as each Christmas holiday comes and goes and our lifetime passes as “a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14 KJV).
So how do we fulfill these three principles during our Christmas celebrations?
- God’s glory revealed – We are to judge everything we do during the Christmas holiday through the lens of God’s glory.
As we make our plans and proceed through our holiday may we always ask these two simple questions…
“Does this plan, or activity, bring honor and glory to my Lord?”
“How can my words, or actions, during this activity be used of the Lord to bring honor and glory to His name?”
We are then to proceed with our activities motivated by a singleness of heart to glorify God in our lives…
1 Cor 10:31 KJV – “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
- Peace secured between God and Man – During this holiday season, may we be particularly aware of the opportunities open to us to share the gospel message with the lost around us. In doing so, we are giving them the opportunity to accept Christ as their Savior which works peace between God and the lost.
But also, during this time of year we need to be working towards peace between ourselves and others around us. Are we holding any grudges? Have we harmed someone with apologizing to them? Have we somehow caused friction to take place between others? Is anyone at enmity with us not due to anything we have done?
If so, it is during this time of year that we should be working towards mending those fences. Many times, simply an apology will do, in other cases, or actively seeking to make amends of a situation or forgiveness on our part will be necessary to bring a healing to these wounds. If we truly desire to honor the Father’s goal in sending Christ to the earth, we are to do whatever is necessary, when possible, to work reconciliation between ourselves and those with who we suffer division.
Ephesians 4:32 – “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
- Unselfish desires for good of others above self – Finally, during this season, we will be blessed with many opportunities to help others by humbling ourselves and, at our personal expense, to meet their needs. The basis of our help should not be limited to those who “deserve” our help, those who “appreciate” our help, nor those who we are “responsible” to help. Our giving of sacrificial help towards others should be a reflection of our Lord’s sacrifice of himself for us who gave himself for those who did not deserve it, nor did they appreciate it.
Luk 20:13-15 KJV – “Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?”
Folks, by seeking to do the will of God, and use the first coming of Christ in the way that God has desired, we cannot help but feel as if we have accomplished much during the holiday season. Glorifying God, working peace with those who are estranged from us, and sacrificially helping others who are in need, and setting a Godly example for our family and friends, are great accomplishments in deed. All of these not only result in temporal gain, but more important they hold great spiritual rewards for God’s people in the world that is to come.
When we are graced by God, allowed to accomplish these goals this holiday season, and Christmas comes to a close, we will be able to look back and see that we have accomplished great things in His name. Suddenly all the gifts, decorations, social gatherings and other things of this world will take a new, much less significant meaning in our lives. There will be no reason for frustrations, emptiness, and sadness, for we can know that we have sought to bring about God’s purposes for Christ’s coming… His eternal glory, peace on earth, and goodwill towards all men.
Come to think about it, why not celebrate the first coming of Christ during every day of the year? We can do this by seeking to fulfill these 3 goals everyday of our lives!