Some days move us more than others.
New Year’s Day finds us hopeful. Last year’s chalkboard gets erased and we start with a fresh slate. Valentine’s Day arrives and we celebrate romance. Independence Day awakens our tender affection for Lady Liberty. Veteran’s Day warms our hearts for those who have protected her. On Labor Day we breathe a collective sigh of relief, enjoying some well-deserved rest. At Thanksgiving we’re thankful. At Christmas we’re joyful.
We honor these holidays with preferential treatment. We gather, we remember, and we celebrate! But what of the days after “the day?” What of January 2nd, February 15th, July 5th or December 26th (or 27th for that matter)? They are as inconspicuous as vanilla ice cream in a shop of thirty-one flavors.
For some reason Christmas beauty fades fast. December 26th comes and Christmas goes. Don’t let that happen! You can return the gifts and clean up the clutter, but don’t let the light of Christmas go dim. Paul tells us how:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. Philippians 2:12-18
Paul gives us practical steps for following Christ after "Christmas is over":
- Take responsibility for your walk with God. "Work out your own salvation" is not teaching works salvation, but an urging to take personal responsibility for growing in your relationship with God. Obeying God is the key. Jesus said, "You are my friends if you do what I command you." John 15:14
- Delight in God's powerful presence in your life. "For it is God who works in you ..." means that God provides both the desire and the drive for honoring Him. Amazing! God calls you to grow and he helps you do it. Remind yourself of that. God's presence is cause for thanking him daily, resting in him daily, and paying attention to those "holy whispers" (click here for more).
- Don't grumble or complain. "Do all things without grumbling or disputing" is a reminder that the cancer of complaint is one thing that will stifle your walk with God (click here for more). Grumbling was the undoing of the children of Israel. When they grumbled they were saying, "God you are not good enough or strong enough." The alternative to complaint is AWE and thanksgiving--AWE that God showed up in that manger; thanksgiving for his continued presence, power, and ability to work out every situation for your good and his glory (Romans 8:28).
- Shine like Bethlehem's star where you live, work, and play. Today, you are God’s bright light--"shining like stars"--as your words and conduct point people to Jesus. Click here for four ways to be an Everyday Christian.
- Hold fast to God's Word. "Holding fast to the word of life" is taking the time to read the Word of God and put it into practice. John Bunyan said, "Sin will keep you from this book, or this book will keep you from sin." True. So open up the Word of God daily. Read it, reflect on it, pray it, and act on it. Start with Proverbs or John's gospel if you need a place to begin.
The days after Christmas are when the real Christmas season begins! Christ is shining his light through you. Keep the Christmas light burning.
The ESV Study Bible provides a good treatment of Philippians 2:12-18. I found it helpful as I wrote this post.