Most men doubt their own abilities. You don’t. It’s no wonder they want to keep you around. It keeps them from having to worry about failure all the time.”
–Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove)
“Doesn’t your reverence for God give you confidence? Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope?”
–Job 4:6 (NLT)
The second greatest commandment is to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39, NIV) That is something to ponder this Christmas season. There are several things to consider with this commandment. I have thought it over and over several times; finally, around the campfire I came up with another thought concerning this commandment.
One of the questions asked in Scripture is, “Who is your neighbor”? Is it the guy next door or down the street? It is the person you work beside, or sit beside during a game or concert? Is it someone you see broken down along the side of the road, or someone you find in need or hurting? The answer is “Yes!” However, I want to say that your real neighbors are the ones that you are most intimately acquainted and involved with. Who then, would that be? Family, especially the family living at home. They are the ones most intimately engaged with your life. They are the ones with whom you are first and foremost to love as you love yourself. Hmmm, they seem to also be the ones who are frequently where the most hurt occurs. (Thanks to Dallas Willard for the thoughts.)
Now, let me try and put this into perspective. One of the key verses in the New Testament is Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (HCSB) Where then do we witness first? Where do we first love others as we love ourselves? In Jerusalem–or home. Take care of family first, then proceed to your other neighbors.
Christmas Thought: “Let us keep Christmas beautiful
Without a thought of greed,
That it might live forevermore
To fill our every need,
That is shall not be just a day,
But last a lifetime through,
The miracle of Christmastime
That brings God close to you.”
–Garnett Ann Schultz
The beginning of the journey of Mary and Joseph took place because of taxes. “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered.” (Luke 2:1, HCSB) The purpose of this registration was for taxation. No one likes taxes; it is one of those evils imposed on us by government. Little did Caesar know that while he was seeking a fairer tax system for the Roman Empire that he would at the same time be fulfilling prophecy.
On the trip to Bethlehem, where Joseph had to register, what were their thoughts as they traveled? Mary was very pregnant, expecting at any time. It had to be a tedious journey; they possibly made three miles an hour, more likely two with the condition of Mary. They had thoughts about the trip itself, they surely had thoughts about registering for a tax, and they also knew that God was doing something unique with them.
This journey was definitely part of the miracle. Let it continue within you, not only during the season, but throughout life.