What makes a Christmas a good Christmas? Think about that for a moment. There is danger that lurks for Christians when we evaluate the quality of life with the standards of our culture. Using the world’s standards to be the measure of what is good in your life will bring dissatisfaction. This is exactly what happened to the psalmist in Psalm 73. His overwhelming discouragement came directly from evaluating life the way God’s enemies do. Parents, this applies to you, as well. If you work hard at your parenting, but use the culture’s standards of success, you will become like the psalmist—embittered and discouraged with life and with God. What is good cannot be found by looking at our culture. Christians have a different standard for goodness:
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
The ultimate good for God’s people: the nearness of God! The psalmist suddenly sees the foolishness of evaluating his life the way the world does. He finally realizes the world is interested in mocking God and ridiculing his commands. Because he had entertained such thoughts, the psalmist compared himself to an unthinking beast. If you use the world’s standards to evaluate your life, you too will be senseless and ignorant.
In sharp contrast, the psalmist observes that the nearness of God is his good! Because of the perfect obedience of Christ, you don’t have to be worried that you must “measure up” to make God happy with you. Even when you sin, God is there, and his nearness is your good. It is easy at Christmas time to regret all that you cannot do. It is easy to be discouraged that you cannot give the presents you would like to give. But the gift that you can give is your joy at God’s nearness. Your spouse will sometimes fail you. Your children will often be ungrateful or selfish. Through all of this, the nearness of God is your good. Christ has paid the price for your sins. He is your brother, your friend, your Savior, your Lord.
This astounding fact that he is your good is what allows you to be faithful parent, spouse and friend. You can be a constant, steady source of encouragement even when those around you are struggling.
Many are fighting to keep Christ in Christmas. While I understand the sentiment behind this thought, the reality is that Christ can no more be separated from his incarnation than God can be removed from the universe. It is what it is. Christ is what he is and man can do nothing to change it. Your reason for celebration remains intact. Jesus became flesh and died for the sins of his people. The nearness of God is your good!
This post originally appeared on Shepherd Press and was republished with permission.
Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, and he is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is a ruling elder at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.