It seems everyone loves the Christmas season. I always joked with my congregation that we want a white Christmas but we don’t want to see snow any other time during the year. Whether we allow the world to hijack Christmas as a feel-good season or don’t celebrate it as fully as we could ourselves, there are some character traits I want to highlight.
As we read the Christmas story about Mary and Joseph and Jesus coming into the world, we don’t always think about the character traits these people demonstrated for us. But these are just traits for the Christmas season.
Even the world talks about being kind and loving one another during the season. They might mention hope or other characteristics they see during this time. Christians are often highlighting the fact that Christmas is not just one day a year.
I want to take a look at some of the character traits of the people involved in the original Christmas story when Jesus came to earth. These character traits are not just meant for the Christmas season. Christians demonstrate them throughout the entire year.
- Humility. Mary demonstrates cumulative throughout the Christmas story. She is the one the angel comes to greet and tell her that she will be the vessel through him Jesus arrives. Being a virgin and pregnant would tarnish her reputation. She could even be stoned to death as an adulterous. And yet she is willing to humbly accept God’s call and become part of his plan. How many of us balk at God’s call? We decide like Jonah to run the other way when he tells us it’s our turn to play a part in his plan. We have a lot to learn from Mary who gladly with joyous song not only accepted God’s call but fulfilled it with excellence. What part of our pride needs to die during this Christmas season so that we can do what God has been telling us he wants us to do?
- Obedience. Joseph had a hard choice to make in his culture. He was pledged to be married to Mary. It was an unofficial binding agreement, a covenant, until he was finished with building their new house. This was the way it was done in his culture. And yet when he found out that Mary was pregnant, knowing that the child was not his, he could have disowned her and thrown her to the wolves. Instead, when he was visited by an angel he was obedient to the Lord’s plans. He took and fathered Jesus as an earthly father, representing and showing the image of God our Father. He chose to fill a role that many men today would completely reject. He took Mary in and married her despite the social stigma of fathering a child that wasn’t technically his. Obeying Jesus isn’t always easy. It doesn’t always on us brownie points for put us in the limelight. But when we step up and we are faithful to be obedient to what God has told us to do, our reward is in heaven.
- Hope. When Jesus was born there were too many people that were paying attention. But there were a couple of individuals in the temple who had been waiting for his arrival for for decades. Simeon had been waiting all of his life to see the promised Messiah who would save Israel from their sins. What he didn’t realize is that it would be the whole world and not just Israel. But he was happy to go to his death in peace after having met Jesus. He understood that Israel and the world needed a hope that would pull them out of the darkness of sin and death and bring them into the light of God’s freedom and kingdom. Anna was a prophetess that went to the temple day and night waiting for the Messiah to arrive. She denoted her entire life to serving God until the Messiah Jesus would come. And she got to meet baby Jesus when he was dedicated in the temple purely because she expectedly waited and hope for his day to arrive. Each one of us can meet him as well when we wait on him to come into our hearts. This world needs a heavy dose of hope and it only comes through Jesus.
- Generosity. Unlike anyone else, there were kings in the East who came to worship Jesus at his birth. They didn’t have to come and they didn’t even have to pay attention to the star they saw in the sky. They didn’t have to make the long journey to meet the Messiah. And then when they came, they gave him gifts fit for a king even though he was lying in a lowly manger. They ignored the surroundings because they understood the glory of the new King, the ultimate king. They were not afraid to pour out their blessings and gifts upon him and shower him with praise when he arrived. We could learn a lot from the Magi this Christmas season. But our hearts should be full of generosity year-round. Because Jesus gave us so much, we should not hesitate to be generous and give to everyone, especially the gift of knowing Jesus.
- Joy. Shepherds were watching their sheep nearby when the angels opened up the heavens in a great choir to tell them what was happening nearby. The light of Jesus was coming into the world and they were in the best seats to see this miracle baby arrive. Shepherds were the lowest of the low in their society. They were much higher on the rung of society than slaves. They had the dirtiest job of taking care of sheep day in and day out. They got little credit for it. And yet the Lamb of God came into the world and was observed first by shepherds. The lowest of the low got to experience the high honor of seeing the King of Kings and Lord of lords first. And they were filled with great joy. They were so overjoyed that they couldn’t help telling everybody they saw about the baby Jesus. Joy is a deep-seated trust in God that Weathers the storms of life. No matter what’s going on in our lives, we trust that Jesus is on the throne. These shepherds celebrated with great joy the coming of the King. And this King lives in our hearts every day. Let his joy flow not just during the season but year-round! We have much to celebrate.
- Perseverance. The Magi weathered all sorts of things in their travels. They crossed deserts to meet Jesus. They would not be deterred even by King Herod who wanted to kill him. They focused on the prize of being some of the first people to meet the Lord. They stayed the course and followed the star until they reached the place where Jesus lived. Scholars believe that it took them around two years to finally meet him. That’s a long journey! And yet they were willing to do it so that they can meet the Messiah. We must also persevere no matter what storms, winds, waves, or anything else tries to deter us. We must stand firm and keep on keeping on. This is part of the Christmas spirit but it is also one of the chief characteristics of the Christian. Don’t be afraid to strongly walk in the name of Jesus every day of your life.
- Reflection. We often allow the things of life to pass us by without reflecting on them. God does great things and we thank them in the moment but we forget that moment something bad happens to us. And yet we are called to be people who reflect on God’s goodness and mercies every day. It’s hard to be thankful for something you barely notice. Reflection opens the door to gratitude at Thanksgiving. And we need to be people who reflect on God’s goodness and everything that he does in our lives. We need to write it down and remember it. We need to celebrate it with joyous hearts. Mary reflected on everything that was said about Jesus when he was born. She wanted to remember every moment of that incredible time. And she would have to rely on those reflections when all of the trials came for Jesus. I believe they are at least part of what got her through the entire experience of his death. Our reflections can be a powerful tool to guide us through those times when God is silent or we don’t see his promises coming to fruition at this exact moment. These are times when reflection helps us to see past the moment. Don’t forget to reflect on everything God does for you. Reflect regularly so that your heart can be open to God’s goodness, recognize it, and celebrate it.
This is the time of year we notice these characteristics in others. Hopefully, we are demonstrating them ourselves. But we must not only demonstrate them in this season. It must be a year-round effort to exhibit these traits.
Enjoy this Christmas season and the goodwill of others that may not usually be there throughout the year. But also remember to demonstrate them throughout the year so that people can see the truth and light of Jesus in you.
Leave me a comment and tell me what you think of these Christmas character traits. Do you see any others in the people of the Bible Christmas story?