Reading today. Psalm 65 and Ephesians 4:17-32
Josh and Jennifer, Jon-Mical, and Jakson have a fun family tradition. Every year, a couple of days before Christmas, they put on new Christmas pajamas and go on a Christmas light scavenger hunt that somehow ends the same exact place each time, Dunkin Donuts. The event includes family pictures and each year Jennifer’s smile gets bigger and bigger. Josh’s smile, less and less. His attitude toward this family outing is evident in his appearance. But he does it because it is Christmas and because Jennifer makes him.
Paul says, in Ephesians 4, that the attitude of our mind should be different because of what Christ has done in our hearts. He says, “Put off your old self…be made new in the attitude of your minds; and put on the new self, created to be like Christ in true righteousness and holiness,” (verses 22-24) Apparently, just like Christmas pajamas, this is something we can choose to put on and wear with a smile on our face, or, in Josh’s case, wear because Jennifer makes us. 😊
Then, he gives us some examples of what that might look like. Tell the truth. Curb our temper. Work hard. Don’t cuss or criticize. Don’t fuss and fight. And don’t grieve the Holy Spirit. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. These are just some possible outcomes of putting on these new “Christmas pajamas.” He, Paul, gives us other examples in other places. In Philippians he says, “Live with joy. Be gentle. Don’t worry. Have peace.” (Philippians 4:4-7) In Colossians, he writes, “Live with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12) He goes on to say in verses 13 and 14 of Colossians 3, “Forgive each other. Love each other. Just get along.” Maybe the most recognizable Christmas pajama list is in Galatians 5:22. Here Paul calls these attitudes, “fruit of the Spirit.” They are, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
It seems to me that one common denominator of all of these lists is that they are about how we treat each other. The thing that sets us apart from all of those people who are wearing the same old shabby pajamas, year after year, is not that we follow a bunch of rules and regulations. “We don’t smoke and we don’t chew. And we don’t go with the girls that do.” What makes our Christmas pajamas stand out is how we get along with one another. He sums that up in the last verse of Ephesians 4. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Man, if there was ever a time in our world when we could use some new Christmas pajamas, it is now. We are divided over race and politics, at each other’s throats over vaccines and masks, and completely at odds over a multitude of other things. And that’s just in the church. In the world, we wear more hatred, bitterness, and vicious anger than we do Christmas pajamas or Christmas attitudes. We need to put off the old stuff and put on something new. And that needs to start with me and you.
So how do we do that? Here’s something that came to me in the middle of the night. (Literally, it did. I got up and found a pen and paper and wrote it down. By the way, Doris needs to work on her attitude a little bit.) Keeping these rules in mind will help me wear a Christmas pajama kind of attitude instead of the mean and ugly spirit of the world.
- Remember that God is large and in charge and His Holy Spirit will work on, in, and through every situation. He has got this so I don’t have to.
- Remember there is a story behind every word, action, or attitude I encounter. If the guy in the car behind me is giving me grief, it could be that his wife just left him, his job is stressful, and his order at Taco Bell got messed up. Instead of responding back, pray for him.
- Finally, remember that it is only personal if I allow it to be personal. If I choose to wear my Christmas pajamas in every conflict and respond with the attitude of Christ, I don’t have to take these attacks as directed at me. I can choose to be mad at the devil for wrecking our world and choose to love the lady that is taking her whole Christmas shopping list into the 10 items or less line at Walmart.
This Christmas season I encourage you to start a new tradition. Go on a scavenger hunt for opportunities to be Jesus to a really difficult and messed up world. Show the love of Christ to everyone you come in contact with. Be kind. Be gentle. And put on a pair of new Christmas pajamas. And oh yeah, Josh, smile.
Oh, Father, Who sent His Son to enter our world as a Baby in a Manger, send Your Spirit into our hearts so that our attitudes will become the same as His attitude, and our responses, the same as His, “And, seeing the crowd, He had compassion on them.” Amen
PS. Tomorrow I will list some things you can do to get ready for a 31-day adventure in January. Then on Monday, I’ll post a video detailing those things.