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Dana Barfield

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The Joys of Christmas

Even on Christmas Eve, I was going through my normal morning routine this morning checking news and articles from various sources.  I came across an article entitled “How the Welfare State Stole Christmas” which is a response to another article entitled "We Could End Homelessness With The Money Americans Spend On Christmas Decorations.”  The latter postulates that we should give away money to people who “need it” because they won’t work, and the former postulates this notion has made many feel guilty, because of the “Biblical mandate” that we are our brother’s keeper.

Here are my credentials to write a response to these articles:

1.      As a boy I got so excited about Christmas I would regurgitate most mornings beginning two weeks before and continuing onto the big day.  These days I can report that far more goes in and almost nothing comes out.  In other words – I love Christmas!

2.      For my entire adult life I have had the privilege and responsibility of teaching the Bible to other adults.  These sessions have been to groups as large as 4,000 at one time, and on an individual basis to our daughter and others who frequently ask me questions.

Here is what I know about the Joy of Christmas:

1.      No where does the Bible even mention the word “Christmas”.

2.      There is no place in the Bible that commands us to celebrate Christmas, and as such, there is no place in the Bible that specifies what an acceptable Christmas celebration consists of or looks like.

3.      No where does the Bible instruct that we are our bother’s keeper.  The only place these two words are used in the Bible/Torah is in Genesis 4:9, when Cain asks God this question in an effort to avoid the consequences of murdering his brother Abel.

4.      What the Bible does instruct concerning giving to others is this:  If a man will not work, let him not eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10.  Galatians 6:5 instructs each person “to carry their own load”, and just before this in Galatians 6:2 we are instructed to “carry each other’s burdens”.  These verses establish the limits and parameters under which we are to give and receive help from others.  Each of us is responsible for our own set of responsibilities; we are to manage and address (handle) these on our own.  However, there are times in almost every life, where a problem or situation, too big to handle alone, occurs.  In these situations, we are to offer and accept help to/from others.  Let this inform your Christmas giving to charities and outsiders – assist others who truly have problems (burdens) larger than what they can legitimately handle themselves – do this with a sense of joy and thanksgiving to God instead of guilt or obligation.

5.      Celebrate Christmas heartily and responsibly, just like you would celebrate the birthday of any deeply loved family member.  Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.  Poverty stricken shepherds joyfully visited Joseph, Mary, and Jesus at his birth; this was their gift.  Wealthy Kings from the East visited and brought expensive gifts, but more importantly worshipped the Messiah even as a child.  All these legitimate and generous expressions of worship were acceptable to Mary and Joseph, but more importantly, each was acceptable to God, despite the wide variance of “cost” associated with each gift.

Here is how the physician, Dr. Luke described these events:

1  In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
2  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
3  And everyone went to his own town to register.
4  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
5  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
6  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
7  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
9  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
12  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
17  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
18  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
19  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
20  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.  Luke 2:1-20 (NIV)

This video is an excellent "picture" of what Christmas is all about:

Celebrating Christmas with joy is to choose that mindset that we have a savior who is bigger than every problem, cares deeply about what happens to us, wants us to be at peace with His Father first, then extend and share that peace with others.  This mindset allows us to be generous but self controlled, sober minded and peaceful, content but motivated.  Happy Birthday Jesus!

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More Stories By Dana Barfield

Dana is the president of The Barfield Group, which has provided industry leading Financial Advice, Investment Services, and helped people Plan for Retirement for more than 20 years. He is a frequent speaker and writer for a variety of industry, regional, and national publications on business ownership and wealth building related topics.