What is the spirit of Christmas?

Published 10:03 am Friday, December 16, 2005

By Staff
The hustle and bustle is about the same as any other time of the year. But in the month of December, there is more anticipation and energy. We are thinking of everybody and how we can do something special. The paper boy, the grocery bagger-each will get some token of our appreciation.
Is it just wintertime? No, winter long outlasts this spirit of benevolence. Is it year-end, as we total up profits and earnings and decide to share some of the bounty? No, December holds nothing special in the account ledger.
One of the best depictions of this strange shift in feelings is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim. Scrooge had, and Tiny Tim had not. It seemed there was no bridging the economic disparity between the two, but Scrooge had some encounters that changed his mind and spirit.
There is no ghost of Christmas, but there is a Spirit that is pouring the love of God out in our hearts (Romans 5:5).
The only thing special about December is that there is the convergence of the cultural season of giving and sharing with the ever present Holy Spirit of God working to make Christ known and glorify the Living God of Heaven.
Not every scrooge has this remarkable turnaround. There was a man named Nabal in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel, chapter 25. Nabal was a rich man, but he was “harsh and evil in his doings” (1 Samuel 25:3). Nabal refused to share his bounty with David. Nabal's wife, Abigail, had a different spirit. She lavishly shared with David (1 Samuel 25:18-19). When she told her husband, Nabal, what she had done, “his heart died within him, and he became like a stone” (1 Samuel 25:37). Ten days later God took his life.
Another scrooge-like person was the rich man in the New Testament book of Luke, chapter 16. This rich man had fine clothes and “fared sumptuously every day” (Luke 16:19). Lazarus was a sick beggar who was laid daily at the gate of the rich man's house. The hope and desire of Lazarus was that he would be given the crumbs from the rich man's table (Luke 16:20-21). The rich man had the resources to make Lazarus' life better but he ignored him, and the only comfort received at the rich man's gate was the dogs who came and licked his sores (Luke 16:21). The rich man died and went to Hades, where he was tormented in the flames (Luke 16:22-23).
The tax collector, Zacchaeus, was scrooge-like. He was rich at the expense of others. Zacchaeus met Jesus Christ and was transformed. His change resembled the fictional Scrooge. Zacchaeus went from wealthy miser to wealthy benefactor. Zacchaeus said after receiving Jesus Christ as Savior, “Look, Lord, I give half my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold” (Luke 19:8).
The spirit of Christmas is the Spirit of God. He is here all the time. His activity does not increase in December, but we are more receptive in December to His promptings. We know the giving spirit exemplified in December is not of our humanity. Human nature is human nature and merely grabs for more. We know Satan does not have a benevolent streak; he would have everybody be miserly and cruel.
So, give glory to God and let us be as open to the Spirit of God the other eleven months of the year as we are in December.
And, let us rejoice in the greatest gift, Jesus Christ, given by the greatest giver, God the Father.