Continued from FAQ Page...
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the gift exchanging that turns me off. I enjoy giving and receiving presents as much as the next guy. What turns me off it how the giving and receiving of Christmas has become the primary focus of attention and not what the day had been set aside to represent.
For an advancing disciple, it’s not what gifs he is giving or getting for Christmas, but what he has been doing with the Gift that God gave (John 3: 16) to him at the First Advent, and the gift (1 Cor. 12) that He kept in store for one’s post salvation spiritual life.
The color “black” is often associated with darkness, evil, and/or the lack of light. Spiritual darkness (MATT. 6: 23) is the absence of spiritual enlightenment.
Evil consists of all sin, but can also refer to otherwise legitimate things when they become the means of distraction from what God intended to be the focus of our attention.
Interesting to note that, as in the case of many of significant events, the calendar date of the First Advent was not recorded, and there was not one mention of celebrating the Lord Jesus Christ’s birthday during the course of His time here on Earth, other than on the night on the First Advent (Luke 2: 13) and perhaps a few days later (Matt. 2: 11).
One of the reasons for this, I believe, is that God never intended for there to be a holiday “season”.
Discipleship is a 24 hr., 7 day, year round, lifestyle. The significance of Christmas, like Easter, is something that should be acknowledged and celebrated in the heart of every believer 365 days a year.
Discipleship is NOT a seasonal activity. It is not something that, like “Christmas” decorations, is set up and then stored away until the season comes around again next year.
The exchanging of gifts to commemorate an occasion is an ancient custom that was a part of both Hebrew (Ester 20: 22) and pagan customs.
The Christian Community over the course of the Church Age has adopted many practices from the Pagan world after putting a Christian spin on the same activity.
During the Feast of Saturnalia that took place in December of each year in ancient Rome, citizens brought offerings to the emperor, and exchanged gifts among themselves to honor the pagan god, Saturn.
Sometime in the 4th Century AD, some 300+ years AFTER the First Advent, the practice of exchanging gifts among Christians was adopted as one of the means to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some suggest that this practice initially was for the purpose of allowing Christians to covertly worship God while giving Roman authorities the impression that they were taking part in the pagan ritual of Saturn that took place in December of each year.
In any event, to mutually gain from a policy of coexistence, many pagan customs were given a Christian spin and adopted by the Christian Community throughout the Roman Empire.
This unholy alliance of Church and State offered the means of control of the people in the eyes of the Roman Empire, and the secular authority of Rome to advance and reinforce the Church.
Some will contend that the concept of gift-giving came from the gift-giving of the wise men at the First Advent.
Note the difference, however, between the presenting of gifts by the wise men when Christ was recipient, as opposed to the practice of giving of gifts to and from fellow believers in which Man become the recipient.
Just imagine a birthday party in which the celebrants exchanged gifts, but offered no gift to the one whose birth the party was intended to celebrate. Sound familiar?
While there is nothing immoral about giving “gifts” to one another, there is an evil side to it when motivated to do so for evil or selfish reasons.
When the giving of gifts is done with the expectation of receiving something back of an equal or greater gain, it is evil. IN such cases, the “gift” is no more than an “investment”, which may or may not produce the desired return.
The exchanging of gifts between fellow believers at Christmas should have NEVER become the primary focus of attention, nor should have the secular traditions of Santa Claus and the false concepts that it produces.
Unlike Santa, in God’s eyes, the entire human race was placed on the “naughty” list, and there (apart from the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ) has never been even ONE person who could ever make it on the “nice” list (Romans 3:23).
God’s gift of salvation, then or now, was/is NOT for ANYONE who “deserves” it.
All the good behavior in the world cannot put anyone on the “nice” list of God.
If God had given the human race what it deserved/deserves, we would all be spending eternity in Hell.
Such things as the Eater bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Clause may have a part in the secular traditions of childhood, but there comes a time when one’s walk with God calls one to no longer think like a child ().
When one reaches the age or stage of moral accountability, knowing the TRUTH about what Christmas is all about will go a lot further, both is this life and in the life to come, than any OTHER gift or Christmas wish one can receive.
It is then, and ONLY then, that one can truly celebrate Christmas for what it truly represents.
In the real world, much of the overt “niceness” we see is done with the evil motivation of seeking self-gain, receiving the overt gratitude of others, and/or fear of punishment for non-compliance as opposed to coming from the heart.
Many times the presents are given as a result of a sense of obligation or competition.
Many of the secular gifts received at any given Christmas will soon enough become dust collectors, lost, or damaged.
Some will even be “re-gifted” or exchanged for something “better” with total disregard for the feelings of the person who gave it to recipient.
Once received, the gifts from God can never be lost or taken back (Romans 11: 29), but many of them can be shared with others.
If you really want to give the “gift that keeps on giving”, present the Gospel to someone who is headed for Hell, or an edifying principle of Scripture with a fellow believer who is headed for Heaven, but with a zero balance in his/her heavenly bank account (Matt. 19: 21).
You might find yourself on that person's "naughty" list for having done so, but discipleship does not offer time off during the "Holiday Season" that Man has created.
Although we can never lose the Gift that God has given us, what we do (or don’t do) with that Gift has much to do with the receiving or forfeiting of additional rewards (1 Cor. 3: 15).
Christmas gifts that are given with Spirit of Christmas are of value to the one who gives it away, and reflects the value that the Giver has for one who receives it (John 3: 16).
Religion, but NOT God, has been attaching strings (requirements to either obtain or retain it) to God’s gift from the very beginning of the Church Age.
Many Christians believe that the obtaining and retaining of the Gift that God gave at the First Advent is earned, deserved, or retained via good conduct and by participating in Man-made, religious ritual(s). If that were so, then for what purpose did the incarnation and work of the Lord Jesus Christ serve?
The Bible has a Christmas Song that plays a very different tune that the ones that the religious orchestra promotes.
So rather or not one finds himself among the herd on Black Friday, or takes a less aggressive approach to the concept of gift giving this year, it might be wise to do a 1Cor. 13:5 self-examination of one’s gift giving policy, and consider giving the gift that keeps on giving.
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