Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Current Study: People Who Made a Difference
Today’s Topic: Live Christmas Every Day
Today’s Scripture: Philippians 2:2-8 …be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
The following is a true story: Two weeks before Christmas a nine-year-old girl was walking with her friend down the street, sliding on the ice. The two of them were talking about what they hoped to get for Christmas. They stopped to talk to an old man named Harry, who was on his knees doing his best to pull weeds from the frozen ground around a large oak tree. He wore a frayed, woolen jacket and a pair of worn garden gloves. His fingers were sticking out the ends, blue from the cold.
As Harry responded to the girls, he told them he was getting the yard in shape as a Christmas present to his mother, who had passed away several years before. His eyes brimmed with tears as he patted the old oak. “My mother was all I had. She loved her yard and her trees, so I do this for her at Christmas.” His words touched the girls and soon they were down on their hands and knees helping him to weed around the trees. It took the three of them the rest of the day to complete the task. when they finished, Harry pressed a quarter into each of their hands. “I wish I could pay you more, but it’s all I’ve got right now,” he said.
The girls had often passed that way before and as they walked on they remembered that the house was shabby, with no wreath, no Christmas tree or other decorations to add cheeriness. Just the lonely figure of Harry sitting by his curtainless window. The quarter seemed to burn a hole of guilt in the one little girl’s mind as they returned to their homes. The next day she called her friend and they agreed to put their quarters in a jar marked “Harry’s Christmas Present” and then they began to seek out small jobs to earn more. Every nickel, dime, and quarter they earned went into the jar.
Two days before Christmas, they had enough to buy new gloves and a Christmas card. Christmas Eve found them on Harry’s doorstep singing carols. When he opened the door, they presented him with the gloves wrapped in pretty paper, the card and a pumpkin pie still warm from the oven. With trembling hands, he tore the paper from the gloves, and then to their astonishment, he held them to his face and wept.
As I thought about that story, I began to wonder how low I would stoop to help others. Then I found this quote from author, professor, and clergyman Henry Van Dyke, who asks us some penetrating questions. “Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children; to remember the weaknesses and loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and to ask yourself whether you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open? Are you willing to do these things for a day? How about for lifetime? Then you are ready to keep Christmas!”
Jesus stooped down from glory and became lower than the angels He created, so that He might personally relate to us and rescue us. He didn’t just put on the appearance of man for a time. His very nature became that of a servant. (Philippians 2:7) It’s easy for us to put on the decorations of Christmas once a year and act like we are givers. But is giving in your nature? I love this quote from John Stott, who said, The Christian should resemble a fruit tree, not a Christmas tree! For the gaudy decorations of a Christmas tree are only tied on, whereas fruit grows on a fruit tree.
Make it your intention this year to let giving and serving be your nature, not just your decoration. When the Christ of Christmas abides in you, and you abide in Him, you will bear fruit that looks like Him.