Joyful Humility

Christmas is a joyful season, but for many it turns into something else. Instead of joy, it is full of disappointment and unhappiness. Instead of an occasion for family fellowship, it becomes an opportunity for opening old wounds, reigniting old arguments, giving new life to rancor that should have died long ago. Instead of being a time of feasting, it becomes a time of fighting.

This is not inevitable, but it is all too common, even among Christians. Christians remain sinners, and when you put sinners into close quarters for a week, add food and drink and presents, you have all the ingredients for envy, anger, and resentment to flourish.

This kind of behavior and these kinds of attitudes contradict the reality we celebrate at Christmas. Christmas celebrates the humility of the God who has become a baby, a boy, a teenager, a man for us. It commemorates the humility of the God who gave His own Son up to the horrifying death of the cross rather than lose His people. It is about the humility of a God who offers Himself for rebellious sinners.

Our celebration of Christmas should thus be marked by humility, and perfect humility casts out envy, anger, strife, and resentment. The proud person never thinks he gets all that he deserves, and thinks that others always get more than they deserve. The proud person focuses on the injustice of inequality. In humility we recognize that we have nothing that we have not received, and all that we receive is a gift of sheer grace. We celebrate the humility of God rightly only when we celebrate in humility, which translated means, when we celebrate with gratitude.

Peter J. Leithart is President of Theopolis.