The holidays are rife with a temptation to let down your guard. Drinking to drunkenness. Lowering entertainment standards. Snapping in irritation at family members. Wandering down an internet rabbit hole of folly, envy, or lust. Being slothful and calling it rest.
As Christians, our celebrations are to be glorious. But the glory of our celebrations doesn’t come from reckless self-indulgence. Rather, the glory only comes from being a forgiven people. And, forgiven people ought to be marked as loving people. The equation which Christ gave us is that those who are forgiven much love much. But love isn’t the mushy slop of subjective feelings. The definition for love is found in the deep ocean of God’s attributes.
The love of God which we are to imitate cannot be divorced from the holiness of God which we receive through Christ by the Spirit who dwells in us. Being forgiven is like getting rid the furniture of sin (the musty couch of envy, the chair of arrogance with a missing leg, the creaky bed-frame of lust, and so on). But a barren house, void of the comfort of lovely furniture and the beauty of attractive decor is not a pleasant place for celebration. Pursuing holiness is how the Spirit works in us to bring into our lives the pleasant furnishings of God’s love.
Holiness is loving what God loves and hating what God hates. This maxim holds true at all times, including our celebrations and holidays. The glory of our jollification comes from being forgiven and being holy by the Spirit’s power in us.
So be vigilant during your celebrations. Don’t put down the sword. Don’t fold your hands in sloth when it comes to vigilantly watching for sin. Don’t leave a chink in your armor. For godly celebration is a lethal weapon in overthrowing the darkness of our age.
Our times of leisure are a blessing from God’s hand, a gift of His grace, and a foretaste of the everlasting peace purchased for us through Christ’s blood. As such, we must not neglect to put on Christ in our times of celebration. We must not forsake our duties of righteousness which God has commanded for us. And we certainly must not toy with our temptations instead of slitting their throats. May God give you vigilance in your merry-making, that you may be a clear and vivid testimony of the glory of His forgiveness and the potency of His holiness in us.
Finally, true rejoicing and celebration only from flows from the knowledge that God is merciful to sinners. This mercy was made manifest in the cross of our Lord Jesus, through whom the world was crucified to you and you to the world. So let all your rejoicing this month be grounded upon this everlasting glory, that your sins, which are scarlet, He has washed whiter than snow.
Ben Zornes – November 26, 2023