It’s Christmas Time Again…

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…so it’s time to get ready! I thought that I should write some posts for the occasion this year, and what better way to get started than a short review of Matthew chapter 6?

Oh yes, that’s right, this is the very heart of the Sermon on the Mount. What’s that you say – what does that have to do with getting ready for Christmas? Oh my, I can see that I should have started this sooner! Why the Sermon on the Mount has everything to do with Christmas, especially Matthew Six!

No, really it does… you’ll see.

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:1-4

Have you ever read the story of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2 and thought there was something ‘funny’ going on? Think about it: The heir to the throne of David was born of humble parents, Joseph and Mary, only Joseph wasn’t the father, and they weren’t exactly married. They were summoned to Bethlehem by a proclamation of a pagan king far away, and were not only poor, but they couldn’t get a room anywhere and had to stay in a barn, where Mary gave birth to a son. A bunch of shepherds came to pay their respects, and then a group of foreign noblemen came by, and when the local “king” found out about all of this, he had all of the little boys in town murdered in a vain attempt to kill this particular child. Be honest; this is an odd little story that we tell each December!

That child grew up and spoke the words that I have included above from Matthew, and these words are pretty strange as well. We are being told to help the poor and needy in secret. We aren’t to do this publically, not to seek credit for doing good; we are to do good quietly. Who does that?

Have you ever been to a charity fundraiser? Normally there is a big splash in the press and a bunch of people all dressed up in their best finery are introduced and applauded under bright spotlights; often they are thanked by local dignitaries, and sometimes they receive glitzy awards for all of their work. Surely Jesus knew how this sort of thing was supposed to be done!

It seems that Jesus didn’t care how the world does things.

His teaching tells us that if we do good to impress men and gain press coverage, then that praise and publicity is our reward, but when we do it simply to help others and give glory to God, then we will receive praise and thanks from God, and He seems to be saying that this is a better outcome.

So let’s see what happens if we put these two things together, the story of His birth, and His teaching in the beginning of this chapter. On the one hand, we have a king born in a barn to a poor young mother, and a Father who just happens to be God. Oh God announced the birth, make no mistake, but He announced it not to the press or to the local luminaries, but to a group of lowly shepherds who were spending the night out in the open keeping watch over a bunch of dumb and smelly sheep.

On the other hand, Jesus is teaching us not to do good things to impress people, but to do them just because they are right.

Come to think of it, I suspect that we can sum this all up in one short statement:

Jesus was born to show us what it means to be humble.

It would seem that His humility gives us quite a contrast to the ways of the world around us.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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17 Responses to It’s Christmas Time Again…

  1. Yes, it’s a Christmas time and time of a favorite festival of year. Hope you have done with your preparation for Christmas gifts.

  2. mike and brandy says:

    “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven…”

    is there a possible application to Christian blogging? honest question. I’m Christian and I often blog about my faith and from a Christian perspective. what do you think?

    • Don Merritt says:

      Hi Mike!

      That’s an interesting question, tough question. I can only say that we are all imperfect, certainly I am imperfect. I try to use personal testimonies of what I have seen, heard and experienced if there is a clear application to a text or Biblical teaching. I try to avoid sharing personal anecdotes that make me “look good”. Since I am my own editor, I’m sure that I have slipped up from time to time and not caught it. Surely this is one of those cases where what is in our hearts is the thing that really counts most.

      • mike and brandy says:

        Thx for replying but the heart condition while doing something wasn’t really what I was asking.
        Is christian blogging defensible as regards to the Matt 6 verse quoted?
        Everyone who does so, including me at times, does so in the expectation that others will see what we write. Not necessarily for ego, but to express the gospel or christian truth or what have you in a wide public audience way.
        Might this also apply aptly as ‘to be seen of men’?
        It actually is an honest question. More to the action than the heart.
        What do you think?

        • Don Merritt says:

          In my view, blogging is nothing more or less than a medium of communication, and as such i can’t see a Matt. 6 problem. Scripture teaches us to share our faith, and blogging is simply a means of doing so. With said, we’re back to the heart issue, because the motivations of hearts are going to come out in blogging, just as in any other kind of communication. If we are all about glorifying ourselves, sooner or later that’s what our writing will be: “Look at me!” If we are about glorifying God, then our blogs will be “Look at Jesus.” If you look at lots of blogs,a nd I’m sure you have, then you see that some Christian blogs are more about the blogger than they are about Jesus, and they might have a Matt. 6 issue. On the other hand, there are many that are all about Him, and these are doing a wonderful job of giving Him glory and inspiring others to do the same; I don’t see a problem with that.

          I hope this helps…

      • gw says:

        Good answer. I think as Christians we need to be aware of the intent of our hearts in blogging as well as in the rest of our personal lives. However, we are human and we will at times be misunderstood.

    • trotter387 says:

      Mike sorry for weighing on this but it is a great question and the answer is two fold as Don makes the strong point about motive we also need to look at the purpose of the Bible writers and the works of Christians through time.

      Jesus told his followers clearly that they should spread the “Gospel” or Good News, now having exhausted many methods (in fact in many countries you now be arrested for conventional evangelism) the use of blogging is a valuable way of reaching out to those without faith, those searching for god and encouraging others.

      We are not promoting our own ideas and not demonstrating a self righteous approach when we discuss the bible in a practical setting.

      It becomes self righteous when our focus is on us and our achievements as a Christian. This is one of the fundamental reasons for following Don’s blogs.

      So Blogs are another method of spreading the Gospel today because the internet is where people are all the time.

  3. Wally Fry says:

    I can absolutely say that I have, indeed, caught myself thinking more about how people were seeing what I have been writing than whether they were actually being reached and impacted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ..shame on me for it….Stats, for example, are a great tool. But they are tool to evaluate effectiveness, not a scorecard for me. Just sayin…..

    • Don Merritt says:

      I agree with you Wally; stats are a great tool, and let’s be honest about the fact that we can write the most awesome things, things that would provide a catalyst to change lives for Christ, but if nobody ever reads it then we have accomplished nothing. Yes, they are a tool, but the goal isn’t really about the blogger; it’s all about Jesus!

  4. Pingback: It’s Christmas Time Again… | A disciple's study

  5. Chris Brann says:

    A great post. Thank you

  6. paulfg says:

    “Jesus was born to show us what it means to be humble.”

    Not sure He ever worried about stats. Nor much else really. For me that is the one thing to take from this conversation of about “self promotion v selfless promotion”. Keep you eye on the main man. He will let each of us know when we are straying. And (I have always thought) it is not really our business to know and evaluate and count the conversions. Only because then we start shoving Him aside in favour of us being centre-stage. At which point I think He has already answered the question.

    “Jesus was born to show us what it means …” in everything.

  7. photojaq says:

    I like the way you tied those together. Jesus humbled himself to come… and to die. How hard is it for us to be humble enough to help the poor in secret.

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