Every year I struggle with Christmas: I have no struggle with taking time to come together with family to enjoy one another’s company, exchange some modest gifts, and get caught up, but, I have always struggled with a “Christmas” that is absent of Christ and full of “Self”; which is surely the antithesis of Christ who demands that we “die to self” to follow Him.
I have never had the peace of Christ that I am accustomed to regarding my heart towards Christmas, and I have always hated that.
Add to this struggle that around Christmas time every year the “grinch slayers” make it their personal aim to shame anyone who doesn’t “shut up” and “go along with Christmas”. Each year they try to shame you into observing Christmas the way they do.
But today is different for me because the Lord has answered my plea for wisdom and overcome this struggle for me! He has given to me the gift of peace for Christmas, and I thank Him!
So I wanted to share with everyone!
AS UNTO THE LORD
Now accept one who is weak in faith, but not for disputes over opinions. One man has faith to eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Don’t let him who eats despise him who doesn’t eat. Don’t let him who doesn’t eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you who judge another’s servant? To his own lord he stands or falls. Yes, he will be made to stand, for God has power to make him stand.
One man esteems one day as more important. Another esteems every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks. He who doesn’t eat, to the Lord he doesn’t eat, and gives God thanks. For none of us lives to himself, and none dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord. Or if we die, we die to the Lord. If therefore we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died, rose, and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written,
“‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘to me every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess to God.’”
So you are no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. However at that time, not knowing God, you were in bondage to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, why do you turn back again to the weak and miserable elemental principles, to which you desire to be in bondage all over again? You observe days, months, seasons, and years. I am afraid for you, that I might have wasted my labor for you.
Paul addresses two distinct observations of days here: the first are days that are observed unto the Lord, the second are days that are observed in bondage (in context of Galatians, these would be Jewish days and festivals observed for the sake of righteousness and justification).
Here is what the Lord has given me regarding the former: let everyone who observes a day, and everyone who does not, observe it towards Christ in full assurance of faith in His peace (let those who have ears to hear, hear what the Lord says about “His peace”) without judging his or her brothers or sisters.
Though it is my personal persuasion is to observe each day unto the Lord; and as the head of my home, I feel convicted to train my family to observe every day with thanksgiving unto the Lord, but I must be careful not to cause my persuasion in this matter become a law for righteousness unto another brother or sister— for then I would become a stumbling block to them!
Here is what the Lord has given me regarding the latter: do not forsake your liberty and be placed in bondage to days and festivals for your righteousness.
It is the enemy who tries to bind your pure conscience with guilt for either observing or not observing one day or another so that you become burdened with doubt, guilt, and shame for the liberty you have in your faith! This becomes a kind of law for righteousness to you when you look down on you brethren because they either do, or do not, observe the festival in the way that you observe it.
Paul was worried for the Galatians because he feared that they had become cut off from the grace of Christ by turning to the law for their righteousness. He was not afraid for them because they were walking in true holiness and righteousness, being filled with the righteous fruit of the Holy Spirit, but because they were exchanging the reality of righteousness in Christ (which bears real fruit) for the form and appearance of godliness that had no power nor bore any fruit unto righteousness.
The Lord showed me that Christmas is a blending of the two situations: you have those who are walking faithfully in their liberty, both of those who observe it and those who don’t, and you have those who are walking in bondage to a culture-synthesized law of righteousness that has bound many Christians in America today.
I praise Christ the Lord for His blessed liberty that in all things we may walk in righteousness if we walk in Christ Jesus! Yes, “all things”, when done unto the Lord in sincere faith, are righteousness in Christ Jesus! Just as “anything that is not of faith is sin”, so also “whether you eat or drink, let all things be done to the glory of the Lord”!
The liberty of Christ is the keeping of sincere faith. Therefore, do not let anyone judge you in matters of faith. By this I mean do not let your heart be bound by anyone with another law other than the law of Christ. I do not mean that you refuse to hear a brother’s rebuke when you have sinned. For that is not a matter of faith in as much as it is impossible to sin by faith in Christ!
COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM AND…
“But,” I can hear my old struggle trying to say, “I can’t pass what is observed as ‘Christmas’ off as Christian; it is mammon-worship!”
I have become convinced by the Lord that this is the fundamental error by which holiness is defiled today: we see people doing something wrongly and react by “illegalizing” the whole thing.
Idolatry is always wrong. Period. No one (for the Lord shows no favoritism) who is an idolater will inherit the Kingdom of God. Just as serving money is idolatry, so also is covetousness, and “Christmas”, as the vast majority of people observe it today, is filled with idolatry. People place themselves in debt for the sake of material possessions. They often teach their children covetousness on this day by showing them, knowingly or unknowingly, that this day is about material possessions. So the children learn covetousness and greed.
Hear me when I say that I am not talking about standing up against sin— “and the works of the flesh are obvious” (Galatians 5:19a)— I am talking about judging your brother’s liberty in something that is not innately sinful. And Christmas is not innately sinful. I know a family who begins the day with prayer, worship, and the scripture, and spends the rest of the day giving to those who lack. And they rejoice in saying “I love Christmas”.
But how other people observe the day has no bearing on how you or I observe the day, just as how other people observe Christianity has no bearing on how I observe Christianity. “Christianity” is more perverted world-wide than “Christmas”, and yet I am still a Christian. Other people pervert the word “Church”, but I still use the word “Church”. I met a cult in South Central Missouri that has turned “giving to the poor” into their sole standard of justification, yet Paul wrote that “if I sell everything and give to the poor, but have no love… I am nothing”. But, I still give to the poor with a love-filled heart!
So, I am going to ask you a question: do you know how to “come out from among them” (2 Cor. 6:17)?
Finish the verse and you will have your answer: “be holy”! We “come out from among them” by “being holy” unto the Lord.
If I do not celebrate Christmas, but I have a bitter heart, have I really come out from among this bitter, covetous, hateful world? Likewise, if I observe Christmas unto the Lord with purity of faith and have no spot of impurity, haven’t I come out from among them and become holy? And if I do not celebrate Christmas, but I do so with a gospel heart of love, haven’t I also come out from among them and become holy?
Not observing Christmas has become a kind of “mark of holiness” with certain crowds of Christians— but be sure that it is not a mark of holiness that Christ recognizes!
So why do we judge other peoples liberty? I think I may know why: in many cases we do so from the most innocent of intentions, earnestly desiring to be righteous. But when this happens, such zeal is not in accordance with the knowledge of God. It is also much easier to define holiness by the appearance of what we do not do than by the reality of what we do. Jesus said “why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46)
My beloved brethren, I pray that we all walk in the peace of Christ, being fully assured in our faith of Him, and that no one will take your liberty captive by fruitless laws of righteousness that promise much but bear nothing!
Therefore, the sooner we let go of pleasing men, the sooner we will walk in the liberty of Christ whose sole desire is to please God!
So, I hope if you observed Christmas this year, you observed it unto the Lord, and, if you did not, you did so unto the Lord.
May the grace, mercy, and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ abound towards you all, amen!