The Christmas Thief
By Toby Crowder
No one likes a thief… that is one thing that most of us would agree on, but unfortunately, we still read headlines like the following from a local paper in Carlisle PA from a few years back: “Carlisle police are seeking the public’s help in locating a suspect who stole the baby Jesus from a nativity scene. It was sometime between Dec. 4 and Dec. 5 when the baby Jesus was taken from the victim’s home located along the 100 block of Garland Drive, police said. The nativity scene was made and hand-painted by the victim’s husband who recently passed away, according to police reports.”
Most of us would never consider stealing from a Nativity scene, or from a department store, or from a friend or family member, yet we are witness to a Christmas thief that is much more prevalent than we realize. This thief may be difficult to identify, for we are all vulnerable to his assault. This thief lives inside each of us and must be guarded against during this Holiday season. In the verse above, we see that steal is the Hebrew word – ganab and it means “To steal or carry away; To take away by theft or secretly.” In other words, it is to take something that belongs to somebody else, illegally or without the owner’s permission. Are we guilty of being a Christmas thief? While we may not readily realize it, let us consider some things that are at risk of being stolen this season:
Consider the true meaning of Christmas; that God so loved this world that He sent to us a Savior! We become so entangled in secular Christmas stories and traditions that there is no time for the truths of Christmas. In our days of media hype and constant advertising, secular images take the main stage while the truth of the Christmas story gets neatly tucked away between the wrapping paper and the shopping bags. Let us resolve to be vigilant as we enter this season, that we do not get so immersed in traditions and legends, that we forget that God sent a Savior, our greatest need. Humanity did not need more information, they did not need more technology, or pleasure, or even earthly treasures or money. Humanity needed a way to salvation, and so God sent a Savior to the world, by way of a stable in Bethlehem, and this is what we celebrate at Christmas. To allow this great truth to be lost is to rob the world of the truth of the Christmas story!
Not only must we remember the truth of the season, but also to give this Savior the GLORY that is due Him. It is not just cliché that “JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!” According to our definition of stealing, to give glory to anyone or anything else is to rob that which belongs only to Christ. We read in Luke 2:13-14 “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” This word glory is the Greek word “doxa” and it means “a thing belonging to God or Christ, majesty. A most glorious condition, an exalted state.” Friend, there is no one else on the planet or in the Heavens that is due this glory! It belongs to no one else except our Savior and Lord! The glory of Christmas is not in a mythical figure who brings gifts, nor is it found in holiday traditions, services, or gatherings. This glory that the angels sang about is only due to this child who was born to bring salvation to all mankind!
It seems at times that everywhere we look, Jesus is being taken away and Christ is being eliminated from Christmas… Would you join me in this simple prayer? “Lord help me not to be a Christmas thief and steal these things from others and from the Savior this Christmas. Would you help me to herald the truth of the Gospel and the true meaning of Christmas as I give glory to the God for His wonderful gift to me?”
(One final thought for the curious… according to Carlisle PA police, the baby Jesus that was stolen from the nativity scene was later safely returned to its owner… Merry Christmas!)
Toby Crowder serves as Pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Spruce Pine. He and his wife Leslie have been married for 26 years and have two daughters, Emilee, and Katy. He can be contacted via the church’s website MCfamilyforChrist.org or email@example.com
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