Many parents are scrambling to find the BEST Christmas gifts for their children – spending hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars on toys, electronics, clothes and jewelry. It’s so normal now for Christmas to be all about STUFF. We easily turn Christmas into a monument to materialism, selfishness, greed and things. Santa and gifts and decorations can become idols to our children, even to adults – as we set our hearts on those things above our desire for Christ. It is a struggle to focus on Jesus and His truth in our culture and not allow Christmas to become something ungodly.
But there is something even worse, in my view.
TURNING CHRISTMAS INTO WAR
Christmas is supposed to be to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ – the coming of the Messiah – the Prince of Peace. But for many families where Christ is not Lord, celebrating His birth becomes another occasion for feuds, hatred, bitterness, contempt, rage, screaming, cussing and even violence.
- DIVORCE – What an ugly thing Christmas can be in this situation. Each parent battles to have the children for themselves on Christmas. Or they have to measure out the minutes and it has to be “exactly equal” or it is NOT FAIR because “he got the children one more hour than I did.” It can become a competition to see who can buy bigger and better gifts sometimes so that the children will “love” the more generous parent more. Some ex-spouses even use the celebration of the birth of the Son of God to create hostility in front of their children, screaming and calling the other parent the most dreadful things and saying, “I hate you!” in front of their children.
- DIVIDED FAMILIES – Other families are not in a divorce situation, but there is incredible tension and division in the home between parents. The celebration of Christmas becomes a battle ground of who gets to have control and power and make the decisions. And the bickering, fighting, yelling, cursing, hatred and sometimes violence become the main event.
When we are living “in the flesh” we will have results like these. It is a guarantee:
Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control…
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:16-17,19-24
What does it do to a child to witness his parents tearing each other down, berating each other, hating each other, calling each other horrible names, accusing each other of terrible things, fighting over the children, trying to take revenge, trying to cause as much pain as possible to each other, using their children as weapons against each other, full of rage, bitterness and resentment – all in front of their children?
A child loses:
- his sense of security and safety
- his understanding of a loving God
- his ability to have trust in relationships in the future
- his ability to have peace himself
- any joy that Christmas might bring
A child gains:
- incredible anxiety and fear
- a desire to try to control others to attempt to maintain his own safety
- a sense of guilt – that the hatred is somehow his fault
- grief over the dream of his family being a loving, joyful, beautiful place
- a picture of God being as out of control and unloving as his parents
- an inability to respect God-given authority and to submit to God and to God-given authority
- health problems related to stress
This list is not exhaustive, certainly.
TO HATE A PERSON IS TO BE AS A MURDERER IN GOD’S EYES
Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. I John 3:15
We love because He first loved us. If anyone says: “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this commandment: “Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” I John 4:19-21
It is time to ask God to examine our hearts under the surgical light and instrument of His Word. It hurts to lie still while He removes all the filth and rot and does open heart surgery on our souls. But we NEED it! If that root of bitterness and hatred does not come out, it will destroy us and our fellowship with God and we forfeit the power of God to work in our hearts and lives. We cannot afford the luxury of hatred! We need Jesus desperately! And we need His power in us so that we can be the people He wants us to be.
THE GREATEST GIFT
What I desire for all of our children for Christmas this year is that they might see the peace and power of God modeled in their parents and that they might experience the peace of Christ in their families and homes.
For this gift to be a reality – it will take each of us submitting ourselves fully to Christ and His Word and His will. We will have to give up our rights, our way, our desires, our wisdom, our plans, our will, our selfishness and be willing to embrace God’s will, His way, His wisdom and His glory. It will mean looking out for what is best for our children, not just what I want.
It will mean my willingness to humble myself and return evil with good, to pray for those who misuse me and for those who mistreat me. It will mean that I must be willing to sacrifice of myself for the good of others. For example:
- If I am divorced, I may decide God is calling me to be generous and allow my ex-husband to have the children all day on Christmas day, and I can make arrangements to celebrate with my children another day that week graciously and cooperatively.
- Even if my husband or ex-husband is hateful towards me – I can choose to submit to Christ and to be filled with His Spirit’s power and to respond with gentleness, respect, godly love, peace and strength.
- I can lay down my agenda and my way and my insistence on being “right” about how to celebrate or where to celebrate Christmas and cooperate with my husband and realize that the details of the celebration and the gifts are no where near as important as the gift of giving my children peace of mind, unity, love and respect between their parents.
- I can respond to hatred with blessing.
- I can respond to cursing with the power of prayer.
- I can respond to mind games and power plays with generosity, kindness, cooperation and respect (unless I am being asked to sin). THAT will bring glory to Jesus and might just cause my husband or ex-husband to go, “HUH?!?” And start thinking that maybe this Jesus that I have is really a treasure.
- I can refuse to yell and scream and cuss. I can ask God to fill me with His Spirit and give me self-control so that my children don’t have to witness the horror of their mother being full of rage and out of control and scary.
When I genuinely have God’s peace in my own soul – God will empower me to have peace with other people AND I will also be in a position to share God’s peace with my children and teach them His ways. There is no better gift than the Lordship of Christ and all the spiritual riches of heaven!
How I pray that You might change OUR hearts today. Convict us of our hatred, bitterness and wrong doing. Show us the ungodliness in our souls. Help us to have godly sorrow and to turn from our ways and our wisdom and to humbly turn to You – knowing we are wretched sinners who desperately need Jesus every moment!
Change us! Make us the wives and moms and ex-wives You desire us to be. Let Your Spirit rule in our hearts. Let Your powerful love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control be the hallmarks of our lives! Richly bless our children through us. Pour out your Spirit on us and remove anything offensive to You and pour through us to our precious children.
Let our homes be sanctuaries of peace with God and peace with one another. Let our homes be full of the joy and strength of Christ. Let our homes be full of faith in the almighty God. Let us make room in our hearts for You this Christmas and every day, Lord!
In the Name and power of Christ,
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE AUDITORY LEARNERS, here’s a Youtube video on this topic!