The spirit of Christmas, as we have shared in the previous blogs, is not about trees decorated in lights, garland, and brightly wrapped presents. It’s about us celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. To carry the spirit of Christmas with us throughout the year, we have seen through scripture that we 1) must have a personal relationship with the Lord and 2) We must be willing to show His love for us through our love for others and through our fellowship with others who believe in Jesus. There is one more crucial part that must be presented before we can end this series and it is the importance of bearing fruit for the Lord.
Spirit of Christmas: the source of all Christian fruit
The love we have for the Lord should spring up inside our hearts and should cause us to bear fruit. The fruit is the evidence of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us, of the love for the Lord within our hearts, and at the center of the Christian fruit we bear, our love for Christ must permeate the fruit. Anything we do, we must do it out of our love for Jesus and not some misguided attempt to fulfill some sense of Christian duty. Ask any married couple or any parent with children and they will tell you the difference between a loved one doing what’s desired because they want to versus because they have to. If we know the difference then we must realize that our Lord knows the difference when it comes to what we do for Him.
The reason the first part of this series deals with our relationship with the Lord is because of what Jesus told his disciples, Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me (John 15:4). This truth – that our relationship with Jesus and the free gift of salvation He offers – is the seed from where all our fruit springs forth. Jesus would later say, Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples (John 15:8), which is an interesting scripture. Within it is this simple truth – when we bear fruit we do bring glory to God. We bear fruit because we are the disciples – a word rooted in ancient Greek that simply means we are students of Jesus.
Spirit of Christmas: our fruit should be evident
The fruit we bear should be obvious, it should be visible to others, and we should bear fruit unashamed. Our fruit should bear witness of the Lord, should make it obvious we are His, and be a testimony to His tender mercies towards us. We should do these things, sharing the gospel message, sharing the love of Christ, and showing others tenderness and mercy not because God expects us to, but because we are doing it out of nothing other than our love for the Lord. Again, the teachings of Jesus show this concept: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16). If we apply this to our lives, our fruit should be obvious because we have been transformed on the inside; Paul best describes this transformation: For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8). This light should burn so bright in our hearts that it glorifies our Lord and draws others to Him. Peter describes this concept a little differently: Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:12).
Spirit of Christmas: reaching out sacrificially
Often when we think of sacrifices, we think of sacrificial giving to missions or to fulfill some special need of a member of our family, a friend, or others. When we give sacrificially, we do it without any expectation of anything in return. We simply want to help or to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus taught about this very type of reaching out to others sacrificially: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Matthew 25:35-40). Those who were doing all these things never expected to receive any sort of reward. They simply had compassion on others and a love for their Lord that they simply demonstrated God’s love and compassion for others.
Even the apostle Paul taught and demonstrated this sacrificial reaching out to others: And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me (Acts 26:15-18). Once he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, Paul understood the task the Lord laid before him. If we were to study the life of Paul, we would see that he constantly demonstrated his love for others, even if it meant he could lose his life or be persecuted for sharing the love of Christ with others. Paul spoke of the condition of his heart, But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24). If we were to study Paul’s life, we would see that everything he did, from his preaching the gospel in every town he entered to every letter he wrote, were done out of sacrificial giving and love for the Lord. If we are to keep the spirit of Christmas alive throughout the year, then we must be willing to sacrificially give, as our Lord and Savior did for us.