The Spirit of Christmas
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Well, we are finally here—Christmas day! And although at first blush it may seem an odd one, I want to ask you a question. Do you have the Christmas spirit? I mean, do you really have the Christmas spirit? Better yet, what is the Christmas spirit? Is it the warm and familiar feeling of being with family and friends around a soothing fire and flickering candle light? Is it the joy of seeing anticipation in the eyes of a child? Is it the satisfaction of unwrapping a special gift? Or is the spirit of Christmas something else?
The answer is found in Christ, who for our sake came that Christmas morn two thousand years ago. Who for our sake condescended to cloak Himself in human flesh. Who emptied Himself. Who “made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man” (Philippians 2:7–8). Who far from grasping the prerogatives of divinity, “humbled himself” (Philippians 2:8).
That, I would argue, is the spirit of Christmas. It is not the rush we experience when we get—get a gift, get a feeling, get a bonus. All these are wonderful in and of themselves. The real spirit of Christmas, however, is found not in what we get, but in what wegive. It is becoming ever more like our Savior in the spirit of selflessness. And not just during the Christmas season, or on Christmas day, but rather throughout the remainder of our lives.
This Christmas season, I and my family have a prayer for you just as we have a prayer for ourselves. It is that as we see images of the poor standing in soup lines on our television screens, we might see ourselves placing a piece of bread in the hands of the hungry. As we remember those in nursing homes, we might envision ourselves dispensing a hug. As we remember the widows and the orphans, we might imagine ourselves healing their hurts. Ultimately it is dispensing the bread of life. “‘I am the bread of life’” said Jesus. “‘He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty....I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever’” (John 6:35; 51).
See more about Hank Hanegraaff's 25-day Christmas devotional here: The Heart of Christmas (Thomas Nelson, 2009)