Going Deeper with the Message:
Humility as God’s Standard
by: Ben Biles
The Christmas story as a whole is very backwards if you think about it, at least from a human perspective. The Son of God is born as a baby to non-influential parents in a barn. None of the spiritual leaders even notice it, even though they had been waiting and hoping for this exact thing for centuries. What is even stranger is when God sends angels to announce the birth of His Son, they show up in a big way, but they pronounce the greatest news in the history of the world to a bunch of shepherds in a field—not the Emperor, nor the king, nor the governor, nor the high priest.
What we see across the board in the Christmas story is the intention of God in coming to earth in humility. God does not play by the rules of men. Jesus is not born to rich, famous, or powerful parents. Jesus is not born in a palace or a castle. He is not visited by the elite classes and proclaimed as the future king. Instead, we see that God sets His own standards for success. He values humility, righteousness, and love, and showcases them through His Son. Through Jesus’s birth and through His life, we see that we had it wrong all along. We prided ourselves in our success, wealth, power, and fame, but God’s purposes involve those that are humble, poor in spirit, gentle, and meek. (See Matthew 5)
Paul explains it this way: “Brothers, consider your calling: Not many are wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one can boast in His presence. But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became God-given wisdom for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in order that, as it is written: The one who boasts must boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:26–31). Paul is saying to the Corinthians that God has chosen them because of their humble state, just as He chose the shepherds in the field.
What God wants from us is humility. After all, only those who see their need for a Savior will turn to Him for salvation. In contrast, those who prosper in this life according to the standards of men often fail to see their need for a Savior, and therefore reject the free gift of God offered through Jesus Christ. Though they think highly of themselves, the irony is that they are the most to be pitied. Their prideful self-sufficiency blinds them from their true need. We learn that we must always be on guard against pride, for pride is our ultimate enemy—so much so that C.S. Lewis called pride the complete anti-God state of mind. If we are to live in alignment with the character of God, we need to clothe ourselves in humility and diligently kill the prideful thoughts that rise up within us.
Living out the Message:
Preparing for Christmas: Ready
By Ben Biles
Anyone with children knows that when Christmas comes around every year, you better have presents ready on Christmas morning for them. If you don’t, these very upset kids will surely burn the house down. At the very least, they will question your love for them. “Why didn’t you get me any presents? Don’t you care about me?” Excuses of working late or being unusually busy won’t cut it. So, when you feel the approach of Christmas Day, you make sure you are ready and prepared so that each kid will be blessed.
One of the most important aspects of our Christian life that we often overlook is our readiness, or preparedness, for the return of Jesus. It’s just too easy to get bogged down by the everyday routines and urgent matters that exact our attention. Plus, the fact it’s been about 2000 years since Jesus was here last time doesn’t exactly make us think He return anytime soon. Even so, the greatest joy we could hope to realize in this life is the return of our Savior. He will make all things right and we’ll spend the rest of eternity in His glorious presence. This is not the stuff of fantasy stories, but the incredible future in store for us all. God wants us to be ready for this.
Jesus explains to His disciples, “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes… You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Luke 12:35-37, 40). He instructs His disciples to eagerly prepare themselves and wait for His return. In contrast, the religious leaders failed to understand Jesus’ first coming because they weren’t watching with prepared minds.
As you celebrate the birth of our Savior during this last week leading up to Christmas, remember also that He will come again. Be ready. Prepare your mind. In the second to last verse of Revelation, Jesus says, “Surely I am coming soon,” to which John responds “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). Let us also have this same mindset.