The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
How to avoid festive temptation.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
There sure is something special about Christmas. Most folk have a special spark about them come December-time. There is magic in the air.
Christmas, for us Christians, is one of the highlights of the Christian calendar.
After all, the glorious incarnation of Christ is what makes Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Pentecost possible. Were it not for the blessed Babe of Bethlehem, we would yet be in our sins (Matthew 1:21).
Nevertheless, this festive season has its perils. Even Christians can mess up at Christmas.
Today, we are going to look at five traditional Christmas sins that we saints would do well to avoid.
1.- Eating and Drinking Too Much
Food, glorious food! We all love eating and drinking, don’t we? Scripture calls upon us to eat and drink for the Lord’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).
But the Bible also warns us about the King James terms “surfeiting” (Luke 21:34). What is that all about? It means gorging and stuffing yourself to excess.
Christ’s disciples, who believe that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit of God, should not be known to overindulge.
Christian parents can also set a particularly bad example for their kids if their family’s Christmas celebrations just revolve around all things material.
Receiving gifts serves as a wonderful pointer towards our Lord’s sovereign grace; but we should make sure that rancid greed has no place in our children’s hearts.
The deification of materialism also battles against the blessed desire to be together as a family. So there should be no eyes glued to a mobile phone 24/7.
Leisure time must always be subordinated to ‘together-as-a-family-before-God’ time.
3.- Talking Too Much and Talking Amiss
As well as the abundance of food, drink and presents at Christmas-time, one terrible sin is that of over-talking.
Scripture is plain that in much speaking there is much sin (Proverbs 10:19). It is the fool who talks without ceasing. We should also strive to keep the themes of our conversations godly and pure.
Maurice Roberts offers some great tips for ‘Christian conversation’.
First of all, five things we should avoid: not talking about the truths of Christianity; dwelling upon one pet theme the whole time; allowing a commandeering spirit to flourish in the group that believes “he is the only one whose voice ought to be listened to”; light-talk that lets our tongues run away from us; and an excessive glumness or depression whilst chatting.
Secondly, on the positive side, Roberts jots down three great pieces of advice: we should come together with some well-prepared spiritual thoughts; share about our experiences of the Lord’s goodness and love towards us; and a desire to enjoy “the felt sense” of Christ’s presence with us as we converse.1
4.- Neglecting our Christian Duties
For some reason, many pastors complain that some Christians tend to enter into spiritual flight-mode over the festive period.
Such believers all but disappear from their local congregations and will not be seen again until early-to-mid-January.
The means of grace are to be used all year round. So at a personal level, believers must keep reading Scripture, praying at home with their families, fighting sin (such as over-eating, over-drinking, over-taking and materialism) and reading sound literature.
And at a congregational level, saints are also supposed to keep hearing the Word of the Lord preached from the pulpit, take part in the church prayer meetings, celebrate the Lord’s Supper and spend time with other brothers and sisters.
Too many alas, end the year full of food and drink and empty of the Lord’s presence. How can we enjoy His embrace if we neglect the private and public means of grace which He has so richly supplied us?
5.- Not Keeping Christ Central
The sin of sins, however, and the sin which explains the previous four on our list is not keeping the Lord Jesus Christ central.
We feast because He is born! We give gifts as a sign of His grace! Everything has to with Him first and foremost.
Without Christ at the centre, Christmas is just another void pagan festival. It is like worshipping at the Temple without the God of the Temple in our hearts.
So let me ask you all to wrap up today (no pun intended): just how Christ-centred is your home at Christmas? Is His Gospel your joy? Does the Good News make you jump with glee?
Keep rejoicing in the Lord Jesus! But may it be a sanctifying-joy!
Merry Christmas to all and a Happy, Christ-centred New Year!
1 ROBERTS, Maurice, The Thought of God (Banner of Truth: Edinburgh, 1993), pp.156-159.