by Sabrina Starnes
Read Matthew 12:22-37
Looks can be deceiving. We’ve all been there. You may have made a judgment call or developed an opinion about someone or something just by what you could see on the surface. And then you realize, after the fact, that you may have been too hasty in your judgments. Sometimes that realization involves apologies, regrets, and even broken relationships.
We’ve all heard the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.” That’s exactly what the Pharisees were doing in this Sunday’s passage. They saw Jesus casting out demons and immediately came to the conclusion that He must be working for the devil. But Jesus’ point brings a good dose of common sense to the issue: “And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?” (Matthew 12:26) Clearly, the Pharisees had an agenda to turn people away from Jesus. They just didn’t think that one through.
The enemy also has an agenda to turn us away from Jesus. This time of year he tries to do that by all the things we can get wrapped up in that will distract us from why we’re actually celebrating. Gift-buying, party-going, bargain-shopping, Pinterest-decorating, Martha Stewart-cooking… All good and fun things. But we purposefully chose to set aside this time of year to acknowledge Jesus and His Father’s plan to send Him here as a baby with a future that included a brutal death in order to redeem our souls back to Him. That is why we celebrate. Let’s be intentional about what we commit to and participate in this year. Ask God to clearly reveal Himself to you in the middle of all the month’s activities. Let’s use these days truly celebrating Christ and pointing others to Him. After all, that’s why it’s called CHRISTmas.
Before family time, use an invisible ink marker to write the words “Merry Christmas” on a blank white piece of paper for each child. Hold the paper up to the kids and ask “what does this look like?” Wait for them to answer “a blank piece of paper.” Then give them the markers that reveal the invisible ink and have them color over their page to reveal the words. Then ask, “were you surprised to see there was something actually written on the paper? On the surface, this didn’t look like what your eyes told you it was. What else can you think of that looks like one thing but is actually something totally different? How can we sometimes judge things or people on the outside unfairly? What should we do instead?”
What does Christmas look like to you? Is it Christmas trees, presents, candy canes, snowmen, stockings, the Grinch, colorful cartoons about trains, and Santa? That may be what Christmas looks like on the outside, but what is Christmas really about? The true purpose behind Christmas is to celebrate God’s plan of sending His Son, Jesus, as a baby to grow up and become a man who would one day die on a cross so that we could become God’s sons and daughters. (Ephesians 1:11-14) Let’s decide today that everything we do for Christmas this year in some way reminds us and others of Jesus.
Jesus, help us to see You clearly this Christmas. Help us to not be distracted by the things that we tend to make Christmas about. Clearly reveal to us where You are working during this season and how we can be a part of it. We want other people who do not know You to see Your love clearly through our lives. Be glorified through us every day of December and beyond.