The Beginning of Salvation
As we await the celebration of the birth of our Savior, it is good to consider all the wondrous gifts that are ours because He lived. As the Bill Gaither song so elegantly puts it, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.”
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is probably “salvation.” When Jesus died on the cross, He gave everyone who believes the opportunity to spend eternity in heaven with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—freed of sin and perfect in every way.
The second gift I personally think of is “service.” My mind goes immediately to Mark 10:45 where I read that Jesus came not to be served, but to serve others (we are that important to Him!) He set the example for all of us when he washed the feet of His disciples and willingly laid His life down as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.
If Jesus was willing to take on our sins so that we could be freed from bondage and thereby escape the penalty of death; if He voluntarily gave up his divine prerogatives and humbled Himself as a mere mortal in order to serve mankind; and if we are called to become more and more like Christ day after day, then surely we are required to become servants in the manner of Jesus Christ.
Permit me to offer the following story as an illustration: A holy man asked God what heaven and hell were like. In response, God took him to two doors. The holy man entered through the first door and saw a table with a steaming bowl of delicious-smelling stew in the middle. The people around the table looked sickly and thin; they appeared to be famished. Each was strapped with a long spoon—long enough to reach the stew in the middle, but too long to ladle the stew into their own mouth.
The holy man shuddered and God said, “This is hell.” In the next room, the holy man saw another table, also with a steaming bowl of stew in the middle. The people around this table looked well-fed and happy. They were laughing and talking and apparently enjoying each others’ company. Their arms also were strapped with long wooden spoons.
“I don’t understand,” said the holy man, “Why are these men so well fed and the others starving?” “It’s simple,” God replied. “You see, they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves. That was hell; this is heaven.”
What does Christmas really mean?
When we serve others, rather than self, everyone benefits. The Bible makes this abundantly clear. Jesus says to love our enemies and pray for them. Paul tells us that God loves a generous giver. We can serve our time, our prayers, our money, and our actions. The important thing is that we consider others more important than ourselves—just as Jesus did (Philippians 2:3-4).
This Christmas season, may we see others through Jesus’ eyes. May our hearts be joyful, our giving plentiful. Most of all, may we become more like Jesus in His role as a servant to mankind.