The Riches Of Christmas
Christmas is coming,
The bankers are getting fat,
Please put a penny in the tax-man’s hat.
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do,
If you haven’t got a ha’penny, tough luck for you!
Christmas is a time of year that can make us painfully aware of the gulf that exists between the rich and the poor. Many of us simply cannot afford the kind of Christmas that we dream about, with heaps of extravagant gifts under the tree and tables laden with delicious food and drink. Some of us will go heavily into debt in order to pay for such a Christmas, and will then start the new year with a nasty shock when the credit card bill arrives.
Perhaps we are resentful towards those who can still afford a lavish celebration, but who we feel do not deserve to enjoy one. Perhaps we envy those who have a larger turkey and Christmas tree than we do. Perhaps we even get into a competitive mindset, and spend more money than we can really afford in order to out-do our friends and neighbours.
Christmas is meant to be a celebration of peace and goodwill. How sad that resentment and envy so easily creep in and dominate our horizons. How tragic that giving to charity often decreases over the Christmas period, whilst the number of marital breakdowns increases. Instead of generosity, there is often selfishness. And instead of peace and goodwill, there are often simmering tensions or blazing rows over the Christmas pudding!
We do well to remember that the very first Christmas was marked not by luxury and self-indulgence, but by poverty and self-sacrifice. As the Apostle Paul reminds his readers in 2 Corinthians 8v9:
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich,
yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich”
The Lord Jesus Christ willingly gave up his place in glory in order to come into our broken and fallen world. He was born in poverty and humility and he died in poverty and humility. And he did so to make us rich! Not rich in material things, of course – Jesus Christ died in our place so that we can receive the treasures of peace with God and eternal security. These unspeakably great riches can be ours as free gifts, simply by putting our trust in the one who became poor to win them for us. Through his poverty we can become truly rich.
So what will dominate our thoughts this Christmas? Will it be envy and resentment at the gulf which exists between the rich and the poor? Or will it be wonder and gratitude at the gulf which Jesus Christ crossed, going from the heights of heaven to the depths of hell, so that we might go from the depths of hell to the heights of heaven?
True joy, contentment and riches are only found through faith in the one who became poor in order that we might become rich. May we all know that joy this Christmastime.