I love Christmas, I really do! It’s my favorite holiday and my favorite time of year because the air is charged with a different kind of spirit and expectation that something’s coming. Even though I love Christmas and I’ve been listening to Christmas music since way before it was socially acceptable to do so (sorry to anyone who has ridden in my car in the last month), it still seems to sneak up on me, and then pass with more of a fizzle than a bang… so, in expectation of Christmas, and in an effort to get my mind right for the holidays, I am going to do a short devo every day leading up to Christmas built out of some of my favorite Christmas carols. I hope you’ll join me for some or all of these next 12 days of Christmas!
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
The 12 Days of Christmas is one of the most annoying songs I’ve ever listened to. I don’t know if I’ve ever sat through the whole song because it is so repetitive and it just gets old really fast (although I think I used to know all 12 days at one point, not anymore haha). I feel like the Christmas message can sometimes feel this way for a lot of people. We get it, a baby was born in a manger 2000 years ago, and some wise men and angels and shepherds freaked out over it. The story of Christmas has been told thousands of times in thousands of ways and if we’re honest, it starts to taste a little stale after a while.
The 12 Days of Christmas says over and over again, “On the first (and second, and third, etc.) day of Christmas, my true love gave to me _______.” For this 12 day devotional series, I wanted to start with this song because the real Christmas story is also the story of our true love giving a gift. This gift is not a turtle dove or a golden ring (I don’t know why you would want a bird for Christmas anyways, that’d be weird). No, this gift is so much more valuable, and is actually worth celebrating for not only 12 days, but our entire lives. To understand the real Christmas story, and to not be bored of it, we actually do need to know the two things this song talks about: who is giving the gift, and what the gift is.
My True Love
Just like in the song, the real gift of Christmas is a gift from our true love. The real gift of Christmas comes from God. To understand why Christmas is good news worth celebrating and being excited about, we need to understand that God is not some impersonal, distant force in the universe with his hands off and feet up. God is deeply personal, and deeply in love with you (Psalm 139, John 3:16). Jesus, who is God in the flesh (John 1:14), loved you so much that he left the comforts of heaven to die and pay for the sins of mankind, so that through faith in Him we could become right with God (Philippians 2:6-8). We need to understand that as sinners, we were separated from God. We unleashed sin and death on God’s good creation, and were worthy of punishment, but Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us (Ephesians 5:2). To really understand Christmas, you need to understand that God loves you and wants a relationship with you.
Gave to Me
The other side of the Christmas equation is that it is about a fantastic, amazing, costly gift. Being brought into a right relationship with God was not free, we were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). This is because our relationship was not just distant, or even strained, it was broken. God is holy and perfect, and we were made to be holy and perfect with him, but we chose to live life apart from him in sin and death. The price to be paid for sin is death, but God gave us the gift of eternal life through Jesus (Romans 6:23). When we put our faith in Jesus, he takes our sin, and gives us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). This means that our relationship with God is not because we did anything to earn it, but it is a gift of grace! That is why the real gift of Christmas is good news for us, because it is actually a gift. If it was something I had to work for, honestly I would mess up and fail. The good news worth celebrating is that Jesus paid the price, he came so that I could be restored to right relationship with the God that loves me, and I can live my life in joy as a result of that relationship, not in fear of messing it up again. That is a gift worth celebrating, talking about, and repeating!
If you have never accepted the real gift of Christmas, Jesus, I hope that you will take this opportunity to do just that and let this be the best Christmas ever. Put your faith in the person and work of Jesus on the cross as payment for your sins for righteousness with God. That’s all it takes. Jesus is the best, most valuable and life-changing gift you could get or give this year, and I hope you will join me the next several days in centering on Him for this season.
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a savior to bring me back to thee.
Pray: God thank you that the gift of Christmas really is a gift from you, my true love and savior. Would you help me to enjoy this season for more than just gifts wrapped in paper, but would you let me enjoy the true gift in Jesus. Thank you for the gift of the cross, and would you let me live my life in light of that truth. Amen.