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Rejoice

Dr. Ray Pritchard
Dr. Ray Pritchard


Chinese Nativity Scene

 “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

Christmas is full of surprises. I ran across a statement that sums it up: “Isn’t it amazing that a baby born in a stable 2,000 years ago can cause traffic jams this week?”

Christians ought to enjoy Christmas more than anyone. Don’t be a Scrooge and a grouch if others get carried away. Remember, it was our holiday first.

I happened across this quote from J. C. Ryle where he speaks the plain truth about the best efforts of the best saints:

The holiest actions of the holiest saint that ever lived are all more or less full of defects and imperfections. They are either wrong in their motive or defective in their performance, and in themselves are nothing more than “splendid sins,” deserving God’s wrath and condemnation.

This is a much-needed word for a generation of Christians with an inflated sense of self-importance. Apart from God’s grace, even our best efforts are nothing more than “splendid sins.”

But if that is the case, why bother living for the Lord at all? Ryle offers this encouraging word for believers who feel like giving up because they have failed so many times:

Just as a parent is pleased with the efforts of his little child to please him, though it be only by picking a daisy or walking across a room, so is our Father in heaven pleased with the poor performances of his believing children. He looks at the motive, principle, and intention of their actions, and not merely at their quantity and quality. He regards them as members of his own dear Son, and for his sake, wherever there is a single eye, he is well pleased.

I find this encouraging because even my best efforts fall short. Ryle has told the truth about the best of us and the rest of us. This side of heaven, we’re a pretty sorry lot, but that’s where God’s grace comes in. No one will be saved by what they do. Our only hope of heaven is to run to the cross and lay hold of Jesus Christ. We won’t even do that unless God helps us to do it, and even then he must give us the strength to keep believing.

Do you feel somewhat dismayed by your “poor performance” this week? Would you feel better if you had been better? Probably you would. But we are not saved by our feelings but by Christ who died for us while we were yet sinners and who justified us while we were ungodly and who continues to save us despite our “poor performance” and our “splendid sins.”

No wonder the angel called it “good news of great joy” when Christ was born. Let all “poor performers” rejoice at Christmastime. He came for us too.

Lord Jesus, we are amazed that you left heaven for people like us. Thank you for making a place for us in God’s family. Amen.

Musical Bonus: I hope you enjoy this spirited version of God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen by the cast of Glee.

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Originally published December 21, 2017.

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