(Cole, Mia and Reed Christmas of 2004 - makes us laugh every time we look at it)
"And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’” Matthew 18:3-4
It’s Christmas time! I can’t wait til Christmas! Only six more days until Christmas!
If you have small children, you’ve probably heard those phrases multiple times just today! Christmas has been widely received as The Most Wonderful Time of Year. Growing up, I couldn’t wait for the night when my family would get in the car and drive to that one neighborhood that went all out for Christmas. You know the one. Every town had one group of houses that tried to outdo the others on their block with the most lights, giant Christmas cards, waving Santa’s and exquisite nativity scenes. If it was warm enough, we could roll down our windows and listen to the different Christmas carols being played on outdoor speakers. Some even synced their light show with the music. All the ooh’s and ah’s in the car almost outnumbered the number of light bulbs. My dad would always comment that he wondered how much these people’s electricity bill was for the month! It’s an exciting, beautiful, meaningful and magical time.
It can also be a stressful time full of pressure, unreal expectations, debt and loneliness. When I think of the above scripture, I think about what Jesus meant by telling us to be like little children. Maybe it’s the way children don’t stay mad at each other for long. They can be playing together one minute, fighting the next, and then back to playing together. Can forgiveness really be that simple? As adults, we have a much harder time with this, especially when harmful sin is involved. I have been blessed to know quite a few people who I greatly admire for being able to overcome terrible situations in their lives.
I have a friend who was molested several times by her own father – she forgave.
I have a friend whose husband fathered multiple children by other women while she was married to him – she forgave.
I have a friend whose father is in prison for murdering her mother – she forgave.
I have a mother-in-law whose husband was a drunk and a cheater – she forgave.
In some of these instances, the relationship was broken. In some, the relationship has been restored and even become a beautiful thing like in my mother-in-law’s case. If she had chosen not to forgive or chosen not to give my father-in-law a second, third or fourth chance, the Robertson family as we know it would not exist, nor would the impact our family has had on the lives of people through our television program.
“Then Peter asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”
Forgiveness. Not usually a word associated with Christmas. Maybe it should be. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up on Christmas morning without the burden of hate, bitterness or anxiety? We will never be able to change the other person, but we can change how we view them.
It may be the best gift you can ever give yourself. So, as you make your last minute preparations of buying gifts, wrapping them just so, preparing the perfect meal or adding just the right finishing touch to your décor, remember the people you’ve been holding out on. Forgive them, even if they don’t deserve it. Remember, we don’t deserve God’s forgiveness either. Yet, He gives it freely. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, 30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Isn’t it time to take Jesus at His word on this? What have you got to lose? Trade in your burden for His. It’s much lighter.
Our children know how to do it. Maybe Christmas is a time to learn some important lessons from them.
Christmas is not just for kids. Christmas is for all, because Jesus came for all of us.
Have a Merry Christmas!